June 2020 Recap

Newsletters

Massachusetts covid-19 cases went down enough so that we moved to phase 2 of reopening this month. Yay for less death! It meant e.g. that restaurants could open their patios and non-essential shops were allowed to open with restrictions and safety measures in place. (I haven’t gone yet myself.) The best is that we were able to get our first curbside pickup of library materials. The process is slower than browsing shelves yourself, of course, but I’ll take it!

If all goes well, as it still seems, we might be starting phase 3 early to mid-July. That would mean opening movie theaters with moderate capacity. Movies and dinner out afterwards are things I miss most (now that libraries are available), but I confess to being over-careful; I can’t decide yet when I might feel safe to go.

I continue to deal with mild respiratory symptoms on and off. Namely, it’s a cough that comes and goes, but it still seems to be merely asthma-related. My allergy symptoms have, thankfully, subsided for now. I am usually due another bout at the end of the summer, so I’m going to take full advantage of these coming weeks when I don’t have to deal with plant reproductive matter. Ahh, life is good when you can smell the summer!

I’ve heard of people having many more nightmares this spring – no surprise there. A bit inexplicably, I still haven’t had a single one. In fact, the other day I woke up in the middle of filling the dishwasher. It’s a “You know you’re middle-aged when” moment, I guess! 😀

In any case, fingers crossed (U.S. way) and thumbs up (Finnish way) that people continue to behave in ways that will repress the virus!

I’ve had energy to plan and do crafts again. In May I made a piece of heart wall art in rainbow ombre. An in-progress photo is below, but you can see the finished piece at my Flickr account.

Ombre Rainbow Heart Art WiP3

This month I have, among others, made a smaller heart art piece as a gift, refreshed two photo frames, whitewaxed a small wall shelf and ordered lots of materials for other projects and updates.

Whitewaxed Wall Shelf3

Foodwise, we’ve had a good month, including this amazing floral focaccia made by a friend:

Flower Focaccia

She did a bakeathon to raise money for Black Lives Matter and other good causes. Our focaccia is not just beautiful but so tasty – quite possibly the best I’ve ever had.

This June we have also been treated to not one but two baby bunnies visiting our backyard with some regularity. It’s amazing – I’ve never seen wild rabbit young live, let alone on my yard. Earlier they looked very much like plushies – a fluffball topped with another fluffball for a head…

Baby Bunny by Raspberry Bushes

…but by now they’re starting to look like big bunnies:

Baby Bunny Starting to Grow

They’re still Very Smol. What a treat! ❤

We also may have a cardinal nest somewhere nearby, for we keep seeing both a male and a female cardinal around. And another visitor we don’t see every year is a snapping turtle.

Unfortunately, June in our corner of the state has been abnormally dry. It’s also been so hot that apart from sneaking in yardwork on some mornings, a lot of the time we just skip all except the absolute musts. Husband has given up on trying to plant a garden this year, and we may have lost a crop of grass seed, as the rain that was supposed to arrive a few days after sowing never materialized. I feel so bad for the crunchy grass, wilting plants, birds and small critters. (At least, if I’ve got it right, grass has evolved to withstand bouts of drought.) We actually set a shallow dish outside this year under the shadow of a rosebush to help the little critters stay hydrated.

Be considerate. Wash your hands. Wear your masks. Stay safe. ❤

P.S.: Note that due to the 4th of July holiday, I will have another short blogging break. Happy Independence Day to my readers in the U.S.! See you back again the first full week of July.

May 2020 Recap

Ahem Ahem!, Newsletters, Thumbs Up

At the end of the month, Massachusetts moved into the first stage of gradual opening. Accordingly, I’m happy to announce that Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy is open!

2019 Nov Dec Green Blue Collage

Please note: Due to the difficulties and delays in shipping internationally, at this point I will only deliver orders to the USA.

(I’m very sorry to have to do this, but as long as it’s impossible to tell how long shipping will take – or whether an order is going to reach its destination at all! – I can’t in good conscience inflict that kind of stress on my customers.)

From May 25, the first non-essential businesses were allowed to open, as long as certain precautions were in place. I have to say that, of all the business-related paperwork I ever expected to have to fill out, this wasn’t on the list: Massachusetts state Covid-19 Control Plan template form.

Covid-19 Control Plan Form

Fortunately for me, since I operate a one-person microbusiness, the procedures were really easy. I did write an outline of how I work during the covid-19 pandemic. If you’re so inclined, please have a look and let me know if you have any concerns.

Also during May, the Massachusetts confirmed cases finally, FINALLY, leveled! It took about 2 months, a month later than originally predicted. The hospitalizations graph had been trending down for longer than that, though. We’re not out of it yet, but I’m so happy and relieved we’re seeing definite signs of improvement!

The mild symptoms I mentioned in the April recap are unfortunately still with me, plus my eyes have started to itch. As far as I can tell this means they’re allergy- or asthma-based, so I’m not too worried, only inconvenienced. Other people are also reporting a bad allergy year, so it’s not just our neck of the continent.

May is also when the nature here absolutely, definitively moved on to spring: we’ve seen so many critters and birds come out to enjoy the sun, including this wild bunny hiding amongst tall grass:

Bunny Hiding in Tall Grass

We’ve puttered around the garden since it warmed up and finished some long-running outdoor projects. (And mowed for the first time.) My latest one is trying to transplant some wild violets into what I hope will become a natural bed by the backyard flagstone landing.

Violets Transplanted

I love our violets. You can’t really see it in this photo, but there are both white and purple ones. They’ve been especially welcome this spring, as are the other flowers. The best thing about them, though, is that the violets came along for a ride with some raspberry canes we got from Husband’s grandmother, who is no longer with us.

Foodwise, we’re managing with 2-week grocery runs, although at times it means ex tempore solutions and trial and error. Husband experimented with store-bought puff pastry and unsweetened apple sauce. Voila – an apple puff pastry loaf with pearl sugar on top.

Apple Puff Pastry Loaf

It was as delicious as it looks – instead of just sugar, you could taste the ingredients. This will be a keeper.

Stay safe. I know it’s more difficult now, 2 months into our new covid-19 world. My urge to go out to eat, go see a movie or visit the library like in the Before Times comes and goes. Mostly I’m okay being at home. I’m missing the ease of getting physical media from the library most of all. Maybe soon! ❤

Online Finds: Poikkeustilapolkka – Polka in Quarantine

After Hours, Bits in Spaaace!

During the covid-19 pandemic, many people in my social bubble have turned not just to handcrafts but to video projects as a way to pass the time and provide comfort. I’ve seen a wide spread of projects and inspiration as a consequence, and enjoyed every one. Here’s an example.

Polokkarit is a 25-year-old folk dance ensemble based in Oulu, Finland. They recorded a polka performance that respects physical distancing recommendations.

(P.S. Beware of one blurred-out NSWF moment – I’m kinda flabbergasted that they left it in.)

Poikkeustilapolkka – Polka in Quarantine by Polokkarit Kansantanssiryhmä on YouTube

They tell a bit about their polka video on YouTube:

“At the moment most of the world is in lockdown mode, but the Finnish folk dance group Polokkarit has found a way to combine dancing and social distancing. Ever since Finland introduced official COVID-19 restrictions, weekly video calls have gathered the group together to practice, keep in touch and socialize. These sessions resulted in an idea of ‘Polka in Quarantine’, a video piece for celebrating International Dance Day with the aim to help ease the group’s yearning for dancing together and at the same time brighten the day of people all around the world.

“The whole production of ‘Polka in Quarantine’ was carried out remotely. The piece introduces the variety of Finnish polka steps in the characteristically cheerful Polokkarit style while offering the dancers’ national costumes a long-awaited outing as well. The video features 29 Polokkarit dancers altogether, scattered to different parts of the country due to the pandemic. Despite the physical distance, this video piece brings the dancers together, thanks to Finnish polka. As well as demonstrating a variety of traditional Finnish polka steps, ‘Polka in Quarantine’ also gives the viewer a unique chance to take a peek into Finnish homes.”

Love it! It’s also nice to see glimpses of familiar places in the background.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Massachusetts Still Remains at Home

Ahem Ahem!, This Is Important

Last week it was announced that Massachusetts has extended the stay at home advisory and the closure of non-essential businesses until May 18, 2020. Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy will, therefore, also remain closed.

 

Heart Banner Pink HB005a

I confess there are days when I get really frustrated and annoyed. I want shops and businesses and services to open. I want to travel. I want to visit the library, go out to eat, see a movie with Husband, and I want to do it now!

The rational part of my brain knows that I’m just reacting to the uncertainty. This will pass. It’s just a matter of when, and of how many people will suffer as a consequence of our actions as a community. Massachusetts is currently working on a plan to ease restrictions; we should hear soon what is deemed safe for now.

I’m lucky enough that even though I have chronic conditions, they’re (typically) under control. Having them, however, and having family working in health care, makes it clear to me that those of us who are able to must take every protective measure we can for all our sakes, and especially for the sakes of those who are in the high risk group. So I stay at home, and keep physically distancing when out.

Stay safe. ❤

April 2020 Recap

Newsletters

Still hanging in there? I hope the answer is yes!

Husband and I are still sheltering in place, for the Massachusetts stay at home advisory is still on; the next reassessment date is May 05, 2020.

April 10 marked a month from Massachusetts’ declaration of emergency, and covid-19 cases were predicted to peak around the 20. (I still haven’t seen statements whether they definitely did or not.) It has been exhausting, and I’ve slept more than usual. This past week my mood has settled, though, which tells me I’ve moved on to adaptation. I’ve even felt quite happy at times, which feels odd in the middle of a pandemic.

I continue to be thankful that we ended up in Massachusetts and that we found this fantastic house in the woods; having a lot with trees keeps me sane. Some people are ocean / lake folks; I’m a tree gal.

My concern is I’m currently having mild symptoms. I’ve spoken with my doctor, and got advice and info; I also know where to go for testing if the symptoms get any worse. For now, though, we hold.

Workwise, I’ve only been able to do the absolutely minimum Etsy paperwork. And blogging, that seems okay (not easy but okay), but I haven’t touched fabric in what feels like ages. It’s a really peculiar, feeling a block stopping you from doing a particular type of activity but not others, and I’m even able to partly look in from the outside and analyze my reaction. I haven’t solved the block yet, though.

Instead, I’ve switched to home projects to keep active and engage my mind. For example, Husband and I organized some of his bookshelves. Here’s a blue section…

Shelves in Blue

…and a study in scarlet:

Shelves in Red

Below is an example of a lovely, colorful bean mix that became very yummy baked beans.

Colorful Bean Mix

The weather has cooled down and is supposed to stay below typical till the end of April. We even had a mid-month, middle-of-the-day snow squall, and a few days after that we woke up to a white ground.

Apr 16 2020 Snow

You can’t quite say that we saw more snow during the first half of April than the whole of March, but it’s close. This seems to be the last of it, though, but there’s a lot of rain in the forecast. Bummer.

We’ve nevertheless been able to do yardwork and go for walks in our neighborhood when it’s nice. Puttering away in the yard reveals all sorts of details you don’t pay attention to in the winter. Like an old bird’s nest in a rose bush:

Old Birds Nest in Rose Bush

Our backyard friends are back, too. Here are two bunnies enjoying the new grass:

Backyard Bunnies Are Back

Trees are really starting to put out leaf buds, and spring flowers are finally out in force!

Apr 2020 Flowering Pear in Bloom

Our flowering pears are absolutely loaded with white blossoms. Ahh, I just love spring! 🙂

Stay safe. ❤

Massachusetts Stay at Home Advisory Remains in Effect

Ahem Ahem!, This Is Important

Just after I published the March recap where I gave details of my situation in our new covid-19 world, Massachusetts Governor Baker announced that the Stay-at-Home advisory and the closure of non-essential businesses would be extended until May 04, 2020.

 

Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy will, therefore, also remain closed until May 04.

Heart Banner Blue HB001b-002b

Stay safe. ❤

March 2020 Recap

Newsletters

What a difference a month can make!

I’m referring now mainly to the covid-19 epidemic that has finally reached Europe and North America, although here in our corner of Massachusetts the saying usually also applies to the weather and nature.

I’ll first address the former.

Please be aware that even if I continue to post about casual, light topics, I am acutely aware of the human tragedy associated with the situation. I am not lacking in compassion; on the contrary, I am protecting my risk group family and neighbors while actively taking care of my own mental health. (And worrying about family members who work in health care, but I have to keep a really tight lid on that in order not to panic.)

I turned Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy off until April 06, 2020, because both Husband and I are at elevated risk for severe illness and because Massachusetts Governor Baker issued a stay at home advisory. On April 07, after hearing from the authorities again, I will reassess the situation. This way I both follow the Massachusetts recommendations on physical distancing and protect myself and my customers from inadvertent exposure.

I’m very lucky to be able to do this, and I realize others may not be. Husband and I have, accordingly, spent a bit more than usual in our local food joints when getting takeout and placed mail orders online. (The latter I hesitate to do much, however, to reduce the risk to postal workers and other transportation employees.)

Speaking of risk groups, we have also checked that our elderly immunocompromised neighbor has people to check on him, but are keeping an eye out, too, just in case. (Everything is, thankfully, fine.)

I am noticing more stress than usual, but I wouldn’t really say I feel stressed out; that feels somehow too big a statement. At the same time, I’m having a really hard time working, so I’m allowing myself to hang out on social media more than usual and not beating myself over not being as productive as on a normal day.

Thankfully, observing physical distancing doesn’t stop us from socializing online or over the phone. Connecting with my family in Europe has helped so much; even us introverts are social animals. 🙂

Overall, March continued the mild weather we inherited from February. There was very little snow, mostly in the beginning. On the last week of the month, we were even treated to the first turkey tom mating display of the season, a little ahead of the usual like so many other things this spring.

First Rose Leafbuds

Very typically of this winter and spring, too, and funnily just after posting on the blog about signs of spring, snow happened. We got about an inch, but it didn’t last beyond three days. Since then, just about all the leaves are about to come out, and the first flowers have!

First Coltsfoot 2020

First Tiny Wild Flowers

At the moment I’m concentrating on home projects, physical activity that allows me to keep a safe distance from others, planning, and activities that support my mental health. I’m especially heartened by how people are pulling together, organizing help, supporting each other, volunteering, donating. And, of course, by cute animal videos! Here’s one of my current favorites:

Harlequin Baby Bunnies Days 1-25 by Emma Grey on YouTube

Stay safe. ❤

P.S. Please, for the sake of everything that’s holy, treat others like you would like yourself to be treated – kindly. Including Asians!

Flu Shot Blues

This Is Important

Because herd immunity is important, Husband and I took flu shots last weekend. Unfortunately, they always make me react – nothing major, just an inconvenient whole-body ache, sore throat and sniffles.

Sick in Munchkin Terms

This year, however, the vaccine seems to have been more potent than previously. Whoa. On the other hand, if that’s what a weakened virus does, I’d hate to be hit by a full force one. Yay for modern medicine!

December 2018 Recap

After Hours, Newsletters

Now that I’m back to blogging, here’s the December 2018 recap.

Honeycomb Candle

Unusually, the first snow of the winter fell before Thanksgiving. It didn’t quite melt by the end of November, but for the most part the ground was bare and the weather warm for December.

We put my Christmas ornament projects to use. This year we decided on a rainbow-colored tree.

2018 Rainbow Tree Collage

During our break we cooked, ate well and rested, of course…

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

…not forgetting to go outside either.

January Sunset

I really scored at my local public library this Christmas: ALL of the Downton Abbey seasons and ALL of the (so-far released) seasons of Call the Midwife were on the shelf!

Xmas Binge Watching DVDs

Woot! 🙂 And we had a lovely, lovely period-drama-filled break.

Unfortunately, 2018 was a complicated year in terms of health. I won’t go into detail, but the situation is serious enough to have changed doctors, made my first visit to the ER and been introduced to the CT, EEG and MRI procedures. In addition, due to some baffling complications I haven’t been fully perky and/or upright for nine months. (Gosh, such a long time!)

I had hoped that continuing my treatment regimen AND enjoying a thoroughly guilt-free, restful Christmas would enable me to show these complications the door and wish them good riddance, but sadly that hasn’t yet happened. So, I’m going to have to continue with a lighter creative work load while taking care of myself.

What are you wishing most from 2019?