Who could have predicted everyone being required to Stay Home? A pandemic forced us to commute via Zoom, reduce driving and cancel travel plans. To make the best of our life at home, here are some home-life thoughts:
Taking Steps: Without the gym and with snacks at home I was getting the Covid 19lbs last spring. Using an iPhone app, like Health, gives you the positive feedback of your step-count and your miles-walked, plus weekly reports and more. Most apps are free to download. Walking more, I have met some nice neighbors.
Fruitful Changes: To eat less I began eating an apple late morning and drinking extra water to be less hungry for lunch. More apples, less bread. Blueberries with plain yogurt and some maple syrup taste like dessert at snack time. Blueberries are super nutritious and apples aid digestion. Maple syrup…makes everything better.
Core Strength: Before the gym closed I asked a trainer what he would recommend for reducing and toning my soft middle and his advice was to mix leg lifts with an overall core strengthener, the elbow plank. He pointed out that doing a pushup (raised) type plank builds arm strength but keeping both elbows on the mat while holding yourself up in a straight plank builds core muscle strength.
Less Distraction: For quiet amid conversations or TV: Noise-cancelling headphones give you the ability to screen out “noise.” Two people working at home can be distracting, or if one of your “roommates” watches ESPN or depressing news while you are working or reading, good headphones let you listen to blogs, music, or enjoy silence.
I splurged on the Sony WH-1000XM3 model, with Bluetooth so I can listen to Pandora music or enjoy solitude without a cord. Comparably priced Bose headphones are rated a bit higher; cheaper models sacrifice some comfort, ease of use and battery time. I love having the ability to tune out conversations, radio, TV, and even traffic sounds when I sit outside.
Sleep: Check out the free app Sleep Cycle which gives you a daily graph of your sleep cycle plus the morning excitement of your sleep “score”. The book, “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker is a good read on the subject.
Pressure washing the exterior: Before you hire a painter you should hire a professional pressure washing company since a good exterior wash may be all you need. I recommend having them clean all the exterior windows while they are at your house since the basic washing leaves the glass streaky. Costs: $150 – $300 for pressure washing, $3 – $5 per window to clean outside only, but ask for a package deal.
Digital thermostat: Switching from an older model to a programmable thermostat makes home life more enjoyable, with the fan running continuously at night or whatever settings provide your ideal comfort. Your HVAC service company will be glad to install one for you when they come for regular servicing. The intermittent fan setting is particularly beneficial to circulate air in spring and fall when mild temperatures don’t trigger your HVAC unit to come on.
The magic of pumice: If your water comes from a well, you may have top-of-water stains in your toilet where mineral deposits build up as water evaporates. For $5 you buy a nifty pumice on a stick tool that erases mineral stains without damaging the porcelain finish. Be sure to flush after scouring so your partner doesn’t worry about your digestion.
Lighting: Compact fluorescent bulbs in kitchens are not pleasant lighting, in my observation. Substituting LED bulbs that dim is my recommendation. I bought a sampler of LED bulbs to try out the light quality and the dimming. Some bulbs turn orangish when dimmed, while others just get dim. Sylvania LED Ultra SE (sunset effects) may be more color/ambiance than you want but I like the dimmed sunset effect in the evening.
Home office: When family moved from Washington, DC into our house at the outset of the pandemic, I created a Quickie Desk made from a flat, hollow-core, wood door slab (Lowe’s) and an old file cabinet. I planned to stain it but haven’t yet and it looks fine.
I used my cordless drill to screw a 28” long 1×4 to the wall to support the end of the desk at the exact height of the file cabinet. Affordable and easy to set up or take down. Desks are typically 28” – 30” above the floor. Brushing the door with paint primer and some white paint may be a better look for your home desk. The Quickie Desk is lightweight, affordable and easy to set up or take down.