Author Archives: leeinroyston

Happy at home #11 – get active

The government is easing the lockdown – opening more shops and allowing gatherings that are socially-distanced. We’re all hoping that this doesn’t increase Coronavirus infection rates – something that some say we’ll not know for some weeks.

Understandably, many are getting impatient for this greater freedom – not least for our mental and physical health – but there’s lots you can do right now to keep fit and well.

And if you’re feeling tired during lockdown, you’re not alone – there are good reasons why you might be finding it hard to adjust  https://theconversation.com/here-is-why-you-might-be-feeling-tired-while-on-lockdown-135502. The good news is that exercise can help get over your fatigue

Get your body moving – indoors and out

Here are some great ideas for staying active at home https://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/our-policy-work/sport-physical-activity-and-mental-health/get-active-feel-good/staying-active-at-home

This is a great link to videos, tips and other useful sources to support your effort to keep on moving – whatever your situation https://www.greatersport.co.uk/ways-to-keep-moving

Workout from home

If all that activity hasn’t exhausted you, our friends at the Herts Sports Partnership have others ways you can ‘join the movement’ at home https://sportinherts.org.uk/workoutfromhome

Cycling

I understand a lot of people around the UK have taken to cycling in past weeks – while roads have been relatively free of traffic and the weather had been kind. It’s obviously a great way to get fresh air and exercise – and it’s not too late to get started!

This is the best single source I’ve found for information on all aspects of starting to cycle https://www.cyclinguk.org/advice-beginners

Or try Freegle for a bike that gives you the exercise but doesn’t take you anywhere!

Getting a free bike might be a little harder now than before the pandemic, but it’s worth signing up to your local online sharing sites. In Royston we’ve got Freegle https://www.ilovefreegle.org, Nextdoor https://nextdoor.co.uk and a local free exchange page on Facebook. Our local Recycling Centre (which has just reopened) had affordable bikes in different states of repair before the lockdown.

Before taking to the road, you’d do well to learn about bike maintenance – here are some tips  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TIlNAXU1kk and there are lots more tutorials on YouTube.

If you prefer two legs to two wheels…

Walking: They say that a 20-minute fast walk (one that leaves you feeling slightly out of breath) is pretty much as good for you as a run.

For all areas, here’s a useful source https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk and to find walks near you, you can always go to the Walking Britain website walks finder https://www.walkingbritain.co.uk/find-walks-by-me.php

Running: If you need a bit of persuasion to even think about taking up running, read this  https://www.verywellfit.com/reasons-to-start-running-4022450. I love running because it’s cheap, I can do it from my door at any time, in any weather.

I won’t go on about parkrun – primarily because it’s been suspended during lockdown. But if you’re new to running, feeling a bit nervous, and you want to join a really friendly and supportive community of all ages and abilities (some people walk the 5kms route), you should check out your nearest parkrun for when lockdown is over https://www.parkrun.org.uk

Before then, you can check out this running guide for absolute beginners https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-start-running-the-absolute-beginners-guide-2911191

Finally… feed the body and the brain

After all that physical exertion, why not reward yourself with a jacket potato? They’re cheap, easy to prepare, and healthy. I’ve just discovered 20 really tasty suggestions for fillings here https://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/food/recipe-collections/jacket-potato-fillings-28635

See other posts in this ‘Happy at home’ series here https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home

Happy at home #10  – Getting more creative

I so enjoyed prescribing creativity in the last ‘happy at home’ blog post, I thought I’d give you a second dose – five more letters from my alphabet pharmacy…

F – Photography (yes – I know it isn’t really an f…)

In my very limited experience, the difference between taking an average photo and a very good one is as much about technique as ‘having a good eye’ (I’m sure photographers would disagree). For technique, some accessible top tips for photo composition are here  https://iphonephotographyschool.com/composition-tips

For more advanced beginners, there are free guides to every aspect of photography here https://digital-photography-school.com/digital-photography-tips-for-beginners

Food

Fakeaways – save money, and your waistline – these are low-calorie recipes https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/collections/low-calorie_fakeaways

Store cupboard heroes for tricky times https://www.hubbub.org.uk/store-cupboard-heroes-for-tricky-times – and check out some of the tasty-looking recipes.

G – Growing

Tomato corner – “Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad, creativity is putting a tomato in a fruit salad.”

So get planting https://www.eastlife.co.uk/article/ade-sellars-growing-tomatoes-yourself and get cr-eating https://www.britishtomatoes.co.uk/recipes

And, if you prefer potatoes to tomatoes – https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-grow-potatoes

Gardening

If you haven’t got a garden here are two suggestions – find your nearest city farm or community garden here https://www.farmgarden.org.uk/resources

Or create your own space to grow things https://1millionideas.com/25-amazing-ideas-for-pallet-planters

And if you’re growing weeds better than plants …. https://1millionideas.com/10-chemical-free-weed-killers-for-your-garden

Games

When I was growing up, my Mum admitted that for a long time she thought the popular board game was called Monotony. This photo of a lockdown version that shows she wasn’t entirely wrong!

H – Home hacks

The BBC demonstrates its skill in upcycling old material with a new series showing lots of household fixes, upcycling ideas, other things to make and do around your home with Jay Blades Home Fix   https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000jk7p 10 programmes

 

 

 

 

I – Informal Learning

Harking back to my mailing around the joys of learning – just for the sake of it … Have you ever thought of learning another language? Now’s your chance with https://www.duolingo.com It’s a free and fun way to learn another language. One of my walking friends is learning Spanish with Duolingo. (that wasn’t meant to sound like an advertisement…)

Inkblot art http://www.selfstyled.com/blog/2017/1/16/diy-inkblot-wall-art – an excuse to make a mess and call it culture! 

 J – Jigsaws

Making jigsaws it not as difficult as you may think – https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Puzzle And the other way of doing it… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2EMmNwTTTo

Jewelry-making https://www.skillshare.com/browse/jewelry-making (and with reference to last week’s mailing – you can sign up for a free 14 day trial).

Also try https://www.firemountaingems.com/resources/jewelry-making-instructions

Junk art I took a ‘week off’ in June. As I wasn’t going anywhere, I thought I’d try something creative – turning wooden offcuts into skylines (see photo – not my work) I’ll let you know how I got on in a future post.

 And a final J …

Even though we’re into July – you can still follow Joyful June – an action for each day to help make your month better https://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/888903/june_2020.pdf

See other posts in this ‘Happy at home’ series here https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home

 

Happy at home #9 – Getting creative

If you read my first post in the ‘happy at home series’, you may remember that ‘create’ is one of my 3Cs (along with ‘connect’ and ‘carry on’) for staying healthier and happier for longer.

So the theme for this post is ‘getting creative’. That’s not about becoming a writer, photographer, gardener, woodworker or chef overnight (or at all…) it’s about discovering the delight of producing something you’re personally proud about. Here are an A – E of ideas…

A – Art

 

 

 

 

 

Some of you may have heard of Rosie the Riveter – she’s a real-life person who worked in munitions factories in the USA in World War II when women were doing things no one would ever have imagined. Her image became iconic. Now, a 14-year-old girl has redrawn Rosie for our time (and her mum says she didn’t even know her daughter could draw!)

 ‘Art is where the home is’ say FirstSite – an organisation based in Colchester – they’re offering three free activity packs https://firstsite.uk/art-is-where-the-home-is to help you develop your artistic flair.

B – Baking

This is what I like – a recipe with only three ingredients – peanut butter cookies. No flour needed (and they taste great!)

Peanut butter cookies

25 minutes to make and bake 16 cookies*

Ingredients

200gms peanut butter (crunchy or smooth is fine)                                                                     175gms golden caster sugar (other sugar will work)                                                                               1 large egg

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C /gas 4 and line two large baking trays with baking paper
  2. Measure the peanut butter and sugar into a bowl and mix well. Add the egg and mix in well to form a dough.
  3. Take golf ball sized chunks of dough and place, well-spaced apart, on the trays. Press the cookies down with the back of a fork to squash them a little.
  4. Bake for 12 mins, until golden around the edges. Cool on the trays for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in a cookie jar for up to 3 days.

*I used half measures to make 9 cookies. This meant the egg made the dough less firm. The ‘chunks’ were spooned dollops and didn’t need squashing down!

C – Creative writing

Poetry corner – continuing the key-frontline-workers appreciation theme, here’s a cheeky little ditty credited to Mark Graham

 The NHS is wonderful

If masks were gone I’d kiss

The doctors and the nurses

Who helped me get through this

But having left the hospital

The one I’d ‘specially miss?

The funny young urologist

Who always took the piss

Also below is lovely little poem from Spike Milligan…

 

Check out this lovely song – ‘These are the Hands’ – based on a poem by Michael Rosen (who is on the road to recovery after 47 days in intensive care with Covid-19) https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=108&v=__356aRXVuc&feature=emb_logo

If you want to get started with creative writing projects (not poetry) take a look at this link https://www.storyclub.co.uk/

 

D – Drawing

Drawing as self-discovery is just one resource from what looks like a really great website for helping us create. https://www.skillshare.com/classes/Drawing-as-Self-Discovery-5-Ways-to-Start/831070146 You can sign up for a 14-day free trial.

E – You were wondering what I’d do for ‘E’ – it’s obvious…  Environmentally friendly cleaning products of course! https://carbonliteracy.com/your-guide-to-green-cleaning

F – finally…

A colleague shares what she says is one of her favourite songs Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI – well worth five minutes of your time for lots of wise words.

That’s all for now – getting creative can be really tiring so don’t overdo it!

See other posts in this ‘Happy at home’ series here https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home

Happy at home #8 – kindness matters

The theme for this post is ‘kindness’ – because it’s good for us all and there are lots of resources from the UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 including this guide https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/kindness-matters-guide

 On kindness….

“The most powerful drug in the world is kindness. It works for everyone, it’s very hard to get the dose wrong, and it’s free at the point of delivery.”      

Dr Phil Hammond (GP, writer and comedian)               quoting his GP trainer Dr Brian Clarke

Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.”     Mark Rowland, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation

Self-kindness

Being kind isn’t, of course, just about how you relate to others, it’s about how you treat yourself. We are sometimes so cruel – behaving in a way we’d never ever treat a best friend or someone else we love. Right now, after however many weeks of lockdown, you may be beating yourself up for not being more active (it’s all very well you making all these suggestions, but I simply don’t feel up to it etc).

If that’s you – no problem – you’re probably feeling like most other people. The other day I saw a handy reminder, based on something called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that it’s OK not to feel OK (a current cliché, but true). Below is that reminder – that we need only take care of our basic needs, to set the bar low, if that’s how you’re feeling right now.

Healthy living under lockdown

There’s a lot of talk about ‘resilience’ – a term which to me sounds a bit like growing a shell to protect you against whatever life throws at you.

I prefer to think of resilience as something more proactive; acknowledging that bad things happen and that we need to try to develop coping techniques to get us through as they arise. This link on resilience is a good reminder of how to look after ourselves in the current lockdown.  https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/developing-resilience

It’s easier said than done, but you can’t go far wrong if you manage to get regular exercise, enough sleep, and have a healthy diet. East Herts Council have come up with a useful list of links to help with this. https://www.eastherts.gov.uk/community-wellbeing/healthy-hub-east-herts/healthy-hub-east-herts-guide-living-lockdown

Recipe of the week: Quick Kedgeree

Not all my oh-so-simple-recipes are actually healthy, but I reckon that this week’s – Quick Kedgeree – is pretty good. It’s got more than five ingredients, but it really is easy and tasty, and you can also eat it for breakfast if you like! See below.

Feeds 4 – ready in 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, small piece fresh root ginger peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 250g basmati rice
  • 300g dyed smoked haddock fillets, skin removed
  • 2 handfuls frozen peas
  • 3 eggs (lemon slice – optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic and ginger, and cook gently for 5 minutes (if you don’t like ginger leave it out)
  2. Add the curry powder and cook for a minute or two
  3. Add the rice and 500ml boiling water, reduce to a simmer then cover and cook for 10 minutes
  4. Cut the fish into chunks and add to the rice with the peas and cook for another 5 minutes
  5. Leave to stand, covered, for 5 minutes
  6. Meanwhile hard-boil the eggs
  7. Divide the rice mixture between 4 bowls
  8. Cut the eggs into quarters and scatter over the rice

Random acts of kindness

The lockdown presents an opportunity to think of ways to make life a little easier for everyone. This can be anything from saying ‘hello’ to strangers when you pass them on the other side of the pavement – or whatever two metres is, to checking up on people you maybe haven’t spoken to for a while with a phone call or even a letter! Or it could be making some biscuits (I’ve just discovered a cookie recipe with only three ingredients – coming soon) or growing some plants and taking them to a neighbour.

A less random way to show kindness is through volunteering. We all know the benefits of volunteering to others, but most people agree they get as much out of it as they put in – above is a little reminder of what’s in it for you.

Until next time, be kind to yourself and others,

See other posts in this “Happy at home” series here https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home

Happy at home #7 – community connections

Are you, like me, slightly confused by the messages coming out through the mass media about what we should/ shouldn’t be doing to keep safe? If so, I suspect we’re not alone.

To avoid adding to the confusion, I want to make clear that, while the theme for this week’s mailing is ‘community connections’ this DOESN’T mean you rush out and hug your neighbour. But it does mean thinking about creating, renewing, building and sustaining contact with people around you, in safe ways, not just for now but also for after the pandemic is contained.

I do feel that lockdown is an opportunity/ excuse to do things we would never have considered even three months ago. For me, this is watching the natural world at close quarters online via live webcams around the world (even the universe) and sharing recipes.

Face coverings

Talking of confusion, I’m sure we’ll all going to get confused about whether we should wear face coverings and if so, what kind. Luckily those fine folk at the Institute of Making have come up with some answers to ‘frequently asked questions’ about face masks here https://www.instituteofmaking.org.uk/blog/2020/05/face-coverings-faqs.

The Institute have calculated that if mask wearing was enforced for a year in the UK and everyone wore one disposable mask a day, that would create 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste. A good reason to make your own and, if you decide to give that a go, you may remember I sent two instructional tutorials in my 27.4.20 mailing (and here’s a link to one that doesn’t involve sewing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MaorozC4Tk)

Helping others

We’re all in this together, but we’re not all in the same boat… which means giving and taking according to our needs.  This is a link to an article with 10 ways to help others https://www.positive.news/society/10-ways-to-help-others-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak You’ll see the suggestions are for both on and offline connections.

Getting support

This is about staying safe – by making the most of legitimate sources of support and avoiding the multitude of online scams doing the rounds.

For local support to meet more general needs, don’t forget the NextDoor neighbourhood hub https://nextdoor.co.uk. It’s an online social platform – so not everyone can get access – but if you have IT you can register for free and it’s quite straightforward.

Sharing: get or give free items in your community (I can’t remember the last time I bought a TV) by signing up online for free with a local Freegle Group. https://www.ilovefreegle.org – there will be a Freegle group near you. Note: you’ll be expected to pick up an item if you’re receiving it – so you may need transport and do observe safe distancing on the doorstep.

Recipe of the week: Talking of sharing, you won’t want to share this Tea Loaf when it comes straight out of the oven – it’s very tasty!

Ingredients

12oz / 350g sultanas or currants (or a mix of both)                                                   8oz / 225g light brown sugar                    ½ pint / 300ml strong hot black tea  10oz / 275g self-raising flour                    1 egg (beaten)

Method

Measure the fruit and sugar into a bowl. Pour over the hot tea, cover and leave overnight.      Stir in the flour and egg into the fruit mixture and mix thoroughly.                                             Turn into a lined tin and level the surface.                                                                                             Bake in a pre-heated oven gas 2/ 150C for approx 1 ½ hours or until well-risen and a skewer comes out clean.                                                                                                                                    Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack [you are allowed to enjoy a slice or two while it’s still warm…]

 Connecting online:

If you want to use video calls for free, many people are now using Zoom and WhatsApp. See page 20 in the Shoulder to Shoulder magazine here https://menssheds.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/April-Newsletter-Small-.pdf for more on this.

Connecting with nature, living sustainably

Lots of lovely things you can do here https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions to keep in touch with the nature on your doorstep.

You can enjoy presentations and discussions from a free online festival to help you live more sustainably https://www.asustainablelife.co.uk/the-sustainableish-online-festival It was organised by my friend Jen Gale – her website is a brilliant sources of simple things you can do to help tackle the climate crisis.

Communities of interest

People talk not just about ‘physical communities’ but also communities of interest… Technology means we can link with people anywhere (the younger generation have been playing online games with people on the other side of the world for years…) to pursue our interests and passions.

As you may know, one of my passions is books – reading and sharing (through my Little Library and reviews on my blogsite) … I came across this piece about how to set up an online book group and thought I’d share it with you. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4d2tfP38MXzZ8bgM7KZ4Wyb/novel-connections-how-to-set-up-your-own-online-book-group

Happy reading!

See other posts in this “Happy at home” series here https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home

Happy at home #6 – bringing outdoors indoors

Despite the ever-changing guidance from the Government (don’t track it too carefully – it’ll make you dizzy…) I hope you’re still managing to follow social distancing advice.

With many understandably hesitant about going out, the theme for this blog post is ‘bringing the great outdoors indoors’.

Nature watching

But you don’t have to go out of your house to admire nature, check out this https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/30/wildlife-through-the-window-what-readers-have-spotted-during-lockdown-aoe

I talked about live cams in an earlier post. I’ve since discovered lots of     other webcams allowing you to watch all sorts of creatures in their natural habitat – not just birds – from the comfort of your front room. Try some of these https://www.explore.org/livecams.

And for a deep dive to look at marine life close-up, put on your snorkel and click here https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams

For a walk on the even wilder side, check out these amazing video films https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV6HJBZD_hZcIX9JVJ3dCXQ

Stargazing

If you’ve got bigger ambitions – to explore the universe – here’s some guidance to get you started https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/apr/23/the-secrets-to-stargazing-from-your-backyard

There’s a free app https://stellarium.org for your phone which looks clever. And yes, there are some live webcams out there if you want to take an even closer look at the stars  https://liveauroranetwork.com (for the Northern Lights) http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-iss-stream (NASA) and https://www.youtube.com/user/SloohOnAirVideos (lots of other sights).

Bring the outside indoors

Back down on earth, this a link to some great materials to help you ‘get outside inside’ with walksexpeditions, and tutorials on lots of things including map reading  https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/guides/getoutside-inside.

And there’s a link to a lovely guide to growing in small spaces ie in your home, here https://acaiactivewear.com/blogs/acai-blog/growing-in-small-spaces.

Growing things

A seamless shift to more resources for gardening, sowing, growing and eating – which is good for your mental and physical health for all sort of reasons – in small spaces.

Growing vegetables This is just one of many guides for beginners  https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/guides/grow-veg  And did you know you can grow vegetables from scraps? Nor did I until I read this article from the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zb3rcqt.

Have you ever been given some healthy-looking plants and then seen them suffer at your hands, despite your best efforts? If that’s you, check out this first aid for plants https://www.giveitagrow.info/keeping-your-plants-alive

Hanging gardens… If you only have limited space outside for growing things – a patio, balcony or outside brick wall – scrap-wood planters are great for flowers, herbs and other plants.

This is a picture of a pallet I’ve recently turned into a handing garden. Other ideas and tips are here https://www.giveitagrow.info/upcycled-wooden-pallet

Until next time – be patient and stay well,

See other posts in this “Happy at home” series here https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home

Happy at home #5 – M is for …

As you may know, I like alliteration. This ‘happy at home’ post is themed around the letter M – mental health, making masks, Mars Bars, mending, menaces, music and, er, Men’s Sheds

Mental health

Are you having trouble focusing and achieving things? Thanks to Kat – co-host of a Cambridge-based study group of which I’m an arm’s length member – below is a neat little sheet to help you overcome obstacles (which may get out of proportion when we’re stuck at home alone with too much thinking time). You can find out more about Kat’s work at https://kathiby.wixsite.com/ayellowbrickroad/blog

I also like this Isolation wellbeing checklist because it’s hand-written and human and (unlike most of my own to-do lists) it’s achievable. What do you think?

Making, Mending (and Men’s Sheds)

No ‘making section’ in the current climate can ignore instructions for making face masks. You’ll probably know that the scientific evidence about the health benefits of wearing non-medical masks is not clear but, if you fancy having a go, here are a couple of links. The first is from those fine folk at Instructables (see below). It looks reasonably straight forward to my untrained eye (and possible without a sewing machine?) https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Face-Masks-to-Support-Medical-Personnel/

The second Make a Mask tutorial comes from my friend Alison at the Goodlife Centre in London – best suited to users of sewing machines I think (with a couple of bears to help…) https://www.thegoodlifecentre.co.uk/my-mask-protects-you-your-mask-protects-me You can also download the instructions here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HMeolzVW3MA8HyNqempSYmmA-epee8-fPEeditT8Za0/edit

Mars Bar Crispies That’s this week’s cooking-for-dummies-like-me recipe starting with M. 3 ingredients and 3 steps – what could be easier (or sweeter)? See below – give it a go.

Ingredients  (Makes 12 – you can halve the quantities if you’re not sharing)                                       4 Mars Bars or similar   /   50 gms margarine/cooking spread   /                                                         3 cups of corn flakes (approx 150 gms)

Step 1 Start melting the margarine in saucepan on a low heat. Chop up the Mars Bars into small pieces and throw them into the pan to melt. Stir, if necessary and, if the mixture is too thick, add more margarine.

Step 2 Add in the corn flakes to the melted mixture. Gently stir together making sure it’s well mixed.

Step 3 Transfer chunks of the mixture into a baking tray or similar (or into small paper cake cups). Pop them into the fridge until they are firm and chilled (I can usually only wait 15 minutes). Take out and serve.

Thank you Mark (another M) for recommending this source of instruction videos covering all sort of purposeful activities https://www.instructables.com. I knew about the website for repair tutorials, but I didn’t know it had so much more.

For anyone who likes tinkering – messing about in sheds, backyards and garages – check out page 5 in the latest edition of our Men’s Sheds Shoulder to Shoulder magazine here https://menssheds.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Shoulder-to-Shoulder-060-April-2020.pdf The magazine includes some toilet roll holders made from reclaimed materials – some inspiration there maybe?

Menaces

Beware online scams! The less friendly aspect of connecting online (or by phone or on your doorstep) is when scammers trick people into giving away their money. Two links from Which https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/04/coronavirus-scams-how-to-spot-them-and-stop-them/ and Google https://safety.google/securitytips-covid19 – take your pick.

Music

Thanks to Marcus (another M) for sending me this link to decade-by-decade isolation playlists for people staying at home – lots to explore. You can search for the playlists on Spotify and listen for free https://www.vindy.com/life/ticket/2020/03/kick-it-up-a-notch

Until next time – take care

See other posts in this “Happy at home” series here  https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home

 

Happy at home #4 – live and learn

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  Mahatma Gandhi

I hope you’re doing OK and finding ways to make good use of the extra time you may have to develop home-based interests – both old and new. I’m trying to learn new things (and improve things I never learnt properly first time around like… er, juggling).

If you were to learn something new, how would you go about doing it? Read the instructions first, jump in, play around, refer to the instructions only when you get stuck, or what? We don’t all learn in the same way; it depends on what is described as your ‘learning style’ (and most of us use more than one).

Looking at different ways of learning things you can do at home…

Watch and learn:

This can be both watching people do what you’re learning – like Jack, who’s keen on biking and doing tricks with ramps (he made his own out of pallet wood) – and by watching online tutorials. There are lots of bike maintenance tutorials online – the longest is over 2 hours, but you might like to start with this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQpSmi0eFDw – just 12 minutes.

Mark is heavily into 3-D printing (which I still think is pure magic). Thanks to him for recommending a couple of YouTube videos to give us an idea about the 3-D printing process – in plastic  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDc41cLzing&feature=youtu.be and even in concrete https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYSKJTRbX3s&feature=youtu.be. More ‘explainer’ rather than ‘how to’ videos!

Trial and error:

They say we learn most by making mistakes and failing. This is probably the way most of us learn (certainly as children) it’s then just a matter of having the determination to bounce back!

For me, cooking is very much about trial and error – having a go (usually with the help of the simplest of recipes). Thank you to Hazel for her Tuna Fishcakes recipe – 2 servings/20 mins cooking time.

Ingredients: 2 servings mashed potatoes; 1 can tuna; 1 tbsp tomato puree

Directions: Make up 2 servings of mashed potatoes, add the drained tuna, and the tomato puree. Season to taste, then mix together roughly.

Form into either 2 or 4 cakes. Place on an oiled baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 180°C/moderate oven until golden brown. Serve with salad or vegetables.

Practice

Slightly different from trial and error, because you know what you’re meant to be doing, but just can’t get it right (yet). For me, that’s juggling. I brought three juggling balls a long time ago – they’re stuffed 7 cms cubes. You could use blocks of light wood or even fruit (a bit dangerous and potentially wasteful). The idea of them being soft cubes is that you don’t spend all your time chasing them across the floor and doing damage (maybe you should start outside?) Here’s an online juggling tutorial that has helped me  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2_j6kMg1co.

Just do it:

They say necessity is the mother of invention. It could be an urgent need arising from the pandemic is one reason you might try something new. Clothing repairs are an obvious example (a stitch in time etc) and there’s lots advice around  https://www.loveyourclothes.org.uk/care-repair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More specifically, you can get advice about how to sew on a button https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/sewing-on-a-button and how to sew torn clothing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFMFF1wWBMw

Studying:

To me, this about getting your brain into learning mode, and making space and time to dedicate to a structured programme of work.

If home-based online or distance learning appeals there’s no better time to start than now. There are some great affordable courses around like Reed’s http://reed.co.uk/courses and lots of free online courses are available at https://alison.com.

And finally….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never stop learning… and stay well

See other posts in this “Happy at home” series here  https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home 

 

Happy at home #3 – nurtured by nature

I hope you’re resisting the temptation to go out and about other than for exercise, shopping, helping people who are self-isolating, socialising safely outside,  and, of course, for essential work. Not easy and I know that not everyone has a nearby green space to get some fresh air.

Connecting with nature at home

Spot that bird: This is a really useful bird-spotting link https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/identify-a-bird

Birdwatching close-up: If you’ve got time on your hands and patience, check out this live webcam https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/loch-garten/live-video-webcam

10 ways to connect with nature without leaving home – we all know that nature is good for our physical and mental health. Lots of ideas here https://www.positive.news/lifestyle/10-ways-to-connect-with-nature-without-leaving-your-home-this-spring

Anxiety in the garden: this is a lovely little recollection

“My grandma used to plant tomato seedlings in tin cans from tomato sauce and puree and tomatoes she got from the Italian restaurant by her house, but she always soaked the labels off first . I don’t want them to be anxious about the future she said. It’s not healthy.” Brian Andreas

Coping while staying at home

Comfort food: I’m fast developing a range of recipes with five or fewer, easily accessible and affordable ingredients. Excluding vegetables on the side, this one has only three ingredients – fish fingers, tomato soup and cheese. I call it fingers in the soup.

  • Line the bottom of an open-proof dish with 10 fish fingers (for two people)
  • Pour a tin of tomato soup evenly over the fish fingers
  • Cook in the middle of a hot oven (220c/gas 6) for around 45 minutes
  • Mush-up the mixture a little with a fork and sprinkle the cheese on top
  • Put back in the oven for another 15 minutes of so (then brown under the grill if you like)
  • Serve with peas and mash (or crusty bread)

10 tips for reducing your anxiety https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips Useful stuff from Public Health England with lots of links to other resources.

And finally

Q: Why did the toilet paper roll down the hill?  A: To reach the bottom

See other posts in the “Happy at home” series here  https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home 

Happy at home #2 – books, birds, blokes and baking

What works for you when you’re staying at home?

Most people I’ve spoken to find some sort of routine helpful, but I also try to build in some differences as well, otherwise one day is very much like another. I find purposeful activity (such as combining a bit of shopping with a longer-than-normal walk) also rewarding.

It’s also a good idea to focus on what you can control and avoid the rest – this is a nice little illustration that makes this point.

 

 

Reading for pleasure

What’s your lockdown library looking like? I love reading real books (this may have something to do with the fact the first two ‘proper jobs’ I had for 17 years were in book publishing and sales).

If you want to know the list of books I’m planning to read over the coming months, click here  https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/the-books-by-my-bed

Getting books online… Libraries are closed but you can often still get free e-books and audio books online. Check out your county council website. If you’re not yet a member of your local library, you can often join online and at least get temporary membership.

If you can afford to buy new, support independent bookshops – many are taking online orders – or use www.hive.co.uk who donate a share of your online purchase to your nominated local bookshop.

 Bird song

Have you noticed how, without all the traffic, the birds are much noisier early morning (in a pleasant way)? Apparently, some birds are returning to places they left long ago because of the noise – great news if they stay!

Last August I declared in a blog post that I’d learn to identify bird song. This is a great place to get started https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2019/04/identify-bird-song

Men’s Sheds

I’m passionate about Men’s Sheds (www.menssheds.org.uk) – community workspaces which bring older men together to stay healthier and happier for longer. While Sheds have been closed, the UK Men’s Sheds Association and Frome Men’s Shed have been broadcasting a weekly radio show – Shed Happens. Listen at leisure to the 8 programmes in the series https://anchor.fm/uk-mens-sheds

Baking

I made flapjacks a few weeks back and was very pleased with the outcome! See the result and the (very easy) recipe below. You can add fruit and nuts to make it healthier!

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I was ridiculously pleased with myself after making these flapjacks

The recipe couldn’t be easier, the result is very tasty (if you have a sweet tooth) and the ingredients are cheap and easy to get. You can make it healthier by cutting down on the sugar content and adding fruit and nuts; I just added some sultanas to the basic mix

  1. Mix well 250gms of porridge oats with 125 gms melted butter or baking spread (what we used to call margarine), 125 gms light brown sugar, and 2 – 3 tbsp golden syrup
  2. Spoon the mix into a lightly greased baking tin and press down and into the corners with the back of the spoon. I used a 6 inch x 10 inch tin, the mixture was around half an inch deep, making 8 – 10 portions
  3. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated (200c/gas 6) oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Score (part-cut) the flapjacks before leaving them (if you have self-control) to cool. Cut, eat and enjoy.

Feeling adventurous? Click here https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/fruity-figgy-flapjacks ____________________________________________________________________________

Exercise Thanks to Carers in Herts for this list of ten things to do while you’re staying at home. https://www.carersinherts.org.uk/downloads/carer-support/coronavirus/1111-home-exercise-links-carers-in-hertfordshire/file

And finally…

A joke from my friend Alan – Anyone wishing to show their appreciation for Amazon delivery drivers are asked to clap outside their homes tomorrow – anytime between 9am and 6pm.

Go well