Maybe this post will only resonate with Californians, but we are entering our fourth week or so of this alert about this virus and a lot of people are making the choice to stay in. In some cases this is wise as we really don’t know that much about it. Our local paper today – The Mercury News, said that local hospitals are NOT testing people as they do not have the kits. They can request a county department of health person to come administer a test and UCSF and Stanford are trying to develop their own tests, so it’s probable more people have this virus and are not confirmed. It’s understandable, and smart if someone older -over 70 especially, or immune compromised, or has lung issues- chooses to stay in now. This post by an epidemiologist who studies infectious diseases among populations was very helpful and sane and some of the best advice.
I traveled last week to San Francisco to Design Influencers’s Conference and it was about two blocks from Chinatown in San Francisco, which has been much maligned as a case surfaced there. The scares in that area were overblown. Some may have been thinking I was taking my life in my own hands, but I joined friends and about 100 or more others ( I’ll share more in another post), and stayed in the hotel there two nights. The hotel did an excellent job of holding all our conference meetings in a large ballroom and had hand sanitizers about every 5 feet. It felt pretty safe and we had fun though the streets of San Francisco were usually quiet.
At home here, people have cleared out many of the stores and stocked up on supplies. My husband’s company has told him not to come in and work from home until further notice! Business trips are cancelled, vacations are off and spring break plans are on hold. I planned to go to the BNP tennis tournament in the desert this week it has been cancelled as a case surfaced in Coachella Valley. That is the largest tennis tournament in the world, besides the grand slams, so it was a big deal, but mandated by the county and the state. Other precautions aren’t happening though. As of right now our airports are not checking anyone flying in from anywhere – another issue someone raised today. People are fully walking though customs, no health questions asked.
So what does that mean for us right now? Well on a more positive spin, people are staying in and, as a result doing things they normally don’t or can’t do because they are dashing off to commute. Right now we may see the biggest experiment ever on working from home- how much will the Bay Area change if a huge amount of people are employed at home and off the roads? How about the typical cold and flu? Will the excellent hand washing we are now employing render the common cold and flu lowest it has been in years?
There are other benefits too.. Time to delve into what you haven’t. More time for lunches with your spouse and possibly being home to cook dinner with the kids. If you don’t work you have even more time if you are stuck in. Sure you can binge watch all the shows that are out there, but why not take this unexpected break to do what you never get to? I think it’s a lost opportunity if we don’t and I thought I’d throw a few ideas out there..
While Your Staying In…
Organize those photos and school papers. You know what I’m talking about .. those boxes lurking in the closet that you mean to get to one day. Take a damn box and sit down with your favorite music on. Go through those envelopes and throw those duplicate horrible pics out along with the negatives and keep just what you love. If you don’t now, one day your kids are going to pitch the whole thing in the trash. No they don’t have time to go through each envelope from the Grand Cayman trip or the family reunion in Kentucky. Make some executive decisions, label them in envelopes and pitch the rest. If you have very old family heirloom photos, one of a kind, make some digital copies while you are at it. This can now be made with your own phone camera, in the correct light. That way if there is a fire, you have a copy for the family. Then check the pic, adjust if needed and send digital copies to all the family members. If you have boxes of school papers, select some original and special pieces and save them in a manila folder or snap pics of cute and funny things to treasure and share. If the kids don’t want them, feel good about pitching them. They are doing you no favors taking up dust for another decade..Don’t leave this junk for your family to sort (aka throw away) one day.
Clean the pantry and refrigerator. Take this opportunity to do a deep cleanse of the food situation in your home. Great kitchens to be inspired by in our Pantry Perfection link up in January. Check you frig and the cabinets for expired items, vacuum and wipe out the cabinets and the refrigerator and note what needs replacing of staples. If you had to be home for a while what can you use the most? I’m not for huge stockpiling, but most people have their favorites. For us it’s a certain rustic bread, oat milk, our beloved Kleenex, pasta and for my son, cheese sticks and protein bars. Think of a few things you can freeze. Our generation has slacked off on using the freezer, and I’m guilty too. I got turned off by a grandma who had a freezer in the middle of her living room and froze everything.. I think we can do a fraction of what their generation did and make life easier. It’s a no brainer for bread, tortillas, pizza crusts, pastry dough, fruit and berries and meats. I also like to freeze bananas when they brown for smoothies and baked goods like cookies, etc. My grandma even used to freeze milk, and lettuce, but I can’t condone that!- update -( A kind reader, Rosemarie, sent me a note from up in Vancouver that she freezes milk and it thaws perfectly, so there you go.. More options!)
Beauty Cleanout. Here’s a day to devote to you. Think of it not as a chore, but more an old school spa day. Dig out those masks you never use- or make one with an avocado, one tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of olive oil. (More DIY kitchen masks to try here – they are under-rated and no bad chemicals!) Slather that sucker on a clean face and get to work purging those bathroom drawers. Get a big bag and be ruthless. (Make sure you recycle those plastic containers. ) Anything you have had more than a year probably needs to go. Try to think how nice it would be to open your drawers and see less, and only what you need, life can be so much easier. If something is strongly scented that is usually a give away it’s gone bad. Be aware of fragrances, they can get killer strong. It can actually get offensive if it’s old and you may not notice. Get some nice things and simplify. Less, but better. Concentrate on moving to less toxic products! I have a good mix, but love things from Beauty Counter a wonderful place that has higher standards than the government for what we put on our faces and body.
Closet Purge. It’s the perfect time of year. Get in there and pull out everything and try stuff on. Think about what you want to see when you walk in the closet. Make a curated closet that feels pretty like your favorite boutique. Bag up for what to donate and resell anything that is nice at a local place like Crossroads Trading or if you don’t want to leave the house, try a clean out kit from Thredup. They send you a prepaid bag and you send your things back in it. Once you figure out what you need, make a list then try and buy something nice for the closet as a reward for purging. Instead of many outings to Target, Homegoods, etc why not spend that on one nice item- a bag or shoes more costly than usual, but with staying power. This is smart shopping and what the Italians do. All those small shopping trips can easily add up to a pair of Gucci loafers in a month, but you’d never spend the money all at once like that right? Now is the time to think how you can spend smarter. I have my eye on this pair and I’m seeing how much I save this month by not shopping.
Find a Home Workout. If you have to be home, why not get in some great shape? It’s also better for your all around mental health. Now’s the time to find options for when you are stuck inside. If you have any kind of cable, there are fitness channels and if you only have your computer you can find everything on YouTube. Just entering home workout in the search bar, I came up with a range of videos on barre, pilates, yoga, HIT, dance and more. If one peaks your interest, click on that and more will load. There is something for everyone. – Another thought is getting a Peloton. A friend just got one and if you can’t or don’t want to attend classes with others, you can do spin and other classes in your own home and watch them live. They have a special right now where you pay $58 a month for three years, no interest. The classes that go with it are an extra $30ish a month. It may be less than a health club and they deliver it by white glove service apparently! The nearest Peloton is at Stanford Shopping Center for us.
Drop a Note or Write a Letter. Do you have an aunt or family member that is far away? Nothing is kinder than a written hello or note. I love how my friend, Elizabeth, aka the Vintage Contessa uses postcards from her travels to drop a note or thank you to people. I have a huge collection of cards from my travels and I thought what a great way to actually use them, and share the beauty of them with others. So take the time to spread a little joy to those who appreciate such things, especially any older folks you may have in your life.
Get Your Garden Game on Early. This is an excellent time to tackle those weeds by hand, clean up the garden and freshen up the paint situation at home. I find just an hour out there on a Saturday makes the yard look awesome, but I rarely have the time to do it. This is the time to start fertilizing citrus and trim other plants. I do think a visit to the garden center can be inspiring and as it’s outdoors, maybe not too hazardous. Redoing planters and starting seeds pots to plant later in spring is a good thing right now. My dad has his tomato seeds starting on a heating pad right now. More tips on this time of year garden to do’s here. It will be worth the time spent when you see the results. Plus gardening feels so great right about now with all the buds blooming and the birds about!
Books- Catch up With Your Stacks. If your like me I always have a pile I’m working through. This is the time to find a cozy corner and work through those babies. Amazon is the original option and right now all the spring releases can be at your door in a day sometimes. Right now this memoir by Go-Go’s bassist, Kathy Valentine, is in my cart.
I hope some of these pretty basic ideas inspire you if you are housebound. Please share in the comments if you have ideas I can share with others too.
Take care of yourselves!
I think many are panicking. Yes, be smart about it. Wash your hands often with soap, carry hand sanitizer and Use it. Don’t touch your face! Touching your eyes, nose or mouth is something we do without thinking. I am avoiding large crowds, flying, cruises, etc. But, I’m not staying home. My life, other than no travel, is carrying on as usual. I’m 66, have no breathing issues nor a compromised immune system. I’ll keep a close eye on the situation and reevaluate as needed.
On another note, I love those a Gucci shoes you are saving for. 👍
Joanna, You are right, just be smart like you are and avoid the crowds. I read a great article yesterday from a scientist said that nothing works like soap on virus germ, they just slide off – and any soap will do. So true about the face too. Once you become aware of it, you can avoid it and also touching door handles, etc. Apparently metal surfaces are the worst and where virus germs can live the longest..Take care and thanks for your note!
LA CONTESSA says
HA!I WILL SEND YOU A POSTCARD A DAY FOR A WEEK AS I NEED TO DETOX MY CARD SUPPLY!!!!!!!!
THANK YOU FOR THE MENTION!
MY GARDEN CLUB JUST CANCELLED THE MEETING for next week and I had cancelled A BIG DOCTORS APPOINTMENT Because of that!I suppose ALL will work out if that VIRUS doesn’t BLOW EAST when those people disembark TODAY in OAKLAND off the cruise ship!
YOU have mentioned A LOT of GOOD HOUSEHOLD ACTIVITIES HERE.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I DO TODAY?!!!!
I LOVE that postcard idea!! You stay safe there.I wonder about medical appointments now. My dear friend is a doctor at the VA and as of now they are only seeing patients via phone or computer. It may be wise to see if you can consult that way..Take care and hugs. xxx
I had my first online doctor’s visit this weekend. It was easy to set up and the doctor was very helpful and thorough on the phone. My situation was straightforward but I had been hesitant to try online. I am so glad I overcame my reluctance and stayed out of a germ-filled waiting room. Would highly recommend.
Didi, Thank you for this! It’s helpful for others to know this is a good option and not difficult. Really appreciate it. I second you about the waiting room…I’m always wondering how safe it is just being there. Take care!
Hi Kim- I stumbled across your blog and I’m so glad I did. I live in the Bay Area as well . My kids (college and high school) both have asthma . I feel apprehensive with the current situation, but I find myself taking things one step at a time. So fa.r their schools haven’t been cancelled, but Open House for high school has. There is a field trip planned for tomorrow, which we’re going to opt out. I really like your post. I think that all of those suggestions are productive and even therapeutic , which ultimately helps our immune system in addition to washing hands of course. I haven’t been hoarding toilet paper or hand sanitizer, maybe just picking up a few extra items when I go to the store 🙂 I’m a baker so I made sure I stocked up on all my baking supplies. If we do end up having to staying home, I’m even considering tackling some sewing projects I’ve always wanted to start. Thank you for your post. Best wishes for staying healthy.
Pamela, You sound like your kids are the same ages as mine. I worry for kids with asthma. I hope they are doing all they can to inform us, but you sound like you are making good decisions without being extreme! I am like you, stocking up on a few more of the usuals daily..just in case. Thanks so much for the kind note. I am hoping you all stay well too!
Thank you for this. I think I will be needing them soon. I’m supposed to be in Amsterdam with my kids for spring break but I think we are going to put it off until the summer. Stay healthy! Xx
Jen so sorry to hear about the trip. I know a lot of people are also in the same boat. Hopefully you can do it later because I love Amsterdam. Take care! xo
Hi Kim, some great ideas there. I hope they help distract you from what’s going on. As far as I know there aren’t any cases yet where I live in the Ottawa area (even so, Costco was out of toilet paper on Saturday!), but it can only be a matter of time. However, I’m quite worried for a dear friend of mine who lives in Italy. I emailed her two weeks ago and at that time there were no cases in her small town in the hills west of Parma; last week, there were two and they were being told to stay away from crowds. Today I read an article about all the restrictions in Italy now – basically the whole country is in quarantine. I’ve written to her again and I’m anxious to hear what she has to say about it. I’m very thankful that we haven’t yet made any travel plans, except for a week near Toronto in June for our son’s wedding – it looks like our friends from the UK might decide not to come; I certainly wouldn’t blame them. It’s a very scary time, I hope you and the family can stay well.
Hi Patricia! I would worry for your friend in Italy too. it’s pretty major over there what is happening. I bet you are excited for your son’s wedding! I hope all goes well. I know a lot of folks who have plans this summer and are already realizing they may not get to go. Right now we are really in a strange situation. Who knows if we are safe and so staying home seems the best choice in some situations. Be well!! xo
I really appreciate the good ideas.
We are in Umbria, and as of last night, we are all on lockdown. Gas stations, pharmacies, and supermarkets are open, but they only let 10 people in at a time. All shops, bars, restaurants, and services are closed, as well as all museums, parks, sports, cinemas, pools, all schools and universities, all closed. Can you imagine? It is forbidden to be within one meter of someone. We are not leaving our country home, for unnecessary outings. All unchartered territory. My heart goes out to all the families and loved ones impacted by this pandemic.
To all—- I wish you stay well.
Robin, Thinking of you and everyone there. It’s frightening as we all don’t know what’s happening. Stay well and take care. I hope beautiful Italy recovers from this. From what I am reading quarantine is the best defense yet.
Diana Amato says
Good morning Kim,
This whole topic is obviously on everyone’s mind right now! Especially, after the travel bans were put into place last night by Washington, D.C. I can only say, that I have been quietly doing exactly the things that you have shared here, well, minus organizing all the photos. Perhaps I will have enough time to get that project started! I just published my blog about what I am doing with my new found time and the hope that we can all be patient and kind throughout this period of time.
You have share a lot of wisdom and insight here! Thank you.
Diana, I need to get over and read your blog. Yes patience and kindness will help us see this through. You are so right. Take care!!