Staying sane while staying home…my to-do list!

Hope you’re all doing ok in this strange kind of limbo we’re in right now. Like most of us, I’m just focused on staying home, staying safe and staying sane! I had planned to be exploring Achill Island this Easter break but it will still be there when this passes. And while it doesn’t help to see so many others still heading away this weekend, I know the majority of us are doing our best to get through this, so I’m trying to stay positive.

For a few weeks I found myself falling into the trap of following the updates on Coronavirus constantly and it was a bad move. Yes, it’s important to stay informed but I don’t need every detail and it definitely was not good for my mental health. So I’m trying to pull back on that and focus on some better options going forward.

I’ve already binged watched the Tiger King and the latest season on Ozark on Neflix and the novelty of catching up on Zoom and House Party is wearing off! It has also been announced that we have at least another three weeks of the current restrictions in Ireland.

My List of Things to Do while Staying Home

So I am feeling the need to be a bit more productive going forward! I’m sharing this list of things I’ve been putting together and plan to do over the next few weeks. Who knows, you might find something useful amongst it. I may, or may not, actually do them but I figured it I write them down, I might have a better chance. Let’s see! I’ve also added in some links for free classes and things that might be useful to some of you. 

Find some new recipes for everyday meals.

Full disclosure, I’m pretty rubbish in the kitchen. So I haven’t been baking up a storm or buying up all the flour! And I’m definitely not a fan of spending hours making dinner either. I’m all about the quick and easy meals. For some time I’ve been meaning to add a few new recipes to my collection though, as I’m getting a bit sick of all the usual suspects which I just make over and over.

I’ve got a couple of the Happy Pear books to work through, so that should keep me busy for a while! I also recently got a PDF cookbook called Féasta with over 20 recipes from cooks and chefs throughout Ireland. Organised by Roz Purcell it includes some of her own recipes, as well as from the Happy Pear, Bread41, The Little Green Spoon, Susan Jane White and many more.

The recipe book was put together to raise much needed funds for the Mater and Mercy Hospital during this time. You can purchase the PDF by making a donation of €5 here on Go Fund Me. Send the email confirmation you receive to feastacookbook @ and you will be sent the PDF.  You get lots of new and yummy recipes to try, while helping fund vital projects the Mater and Mercy Hospitals. It’s a win-win and I am really liking the sound of the sweet potato mac n’ cheese, so will be giving that a go!

Also if you fancy trying out a cook along, follow Rozanna Purcell as she has been doing some on Instagram Live. Not a bad way to spend some time and you get to enjoy something delicious at the end of it!

Plan some future adventures around Ireland

Yes things are uncertain right now and everything is up in the air, but at some point we’ll all be out enjoying ourselves again. I imagine that even when restrictions are lifted somewhat, it’s going to take some time before overseas trips become the norm again though.

More than ever, we’ll learn to appreciate all that we have in our own back yard. Those parts of Ireland that you’ve been meaning to visit for years but never got around to? Now’s the time to start planning a trip and finally get there! Once things are getting back up and running you’ll be ready and rearing to go. Whether it’s simply some walks you’ve been meaning to do, a day trip or even a full on road trip, the planning part can be lots of fun. 

If you have older kids, you can get them involved too. Research the areas you want to visit, watch some videos on You Tube and maybe even find some local businesses you’d like to visit and support when you get there.

I’ll definitely be doing a bit of that, including Achill Island and a few other destinations that I had booked but now won’t be visiting just yet. I also still have plenty of photos and adventures from the last few years to share. So I’ll be adding as much new content to the blog as I can over the next while and catching up on that side of things.

Blogging, Vlogging & Making Money Online

Which brings me to the next topic! If you’ve always wanted to start a blog, a You Tube channel or start making money online, why not start now if you have the time.

Obviously reading blogs about travel is not at the top of everyone’s list right now. I should know, as my page views have all but disappeared! But building up your content now will hopefully pay off in the future. That’s what I’ll be focussing on. 

Start with Free Online Classes or Videos

For obvious reasons, blogs or vlogs about cooking, photoshop, DIY, exercising from home etc are all very popular right now. If you’re not sure where to get started, try searching on You Tube or sites such as Skillshare, which offers a lot of free classes. You can start learning about anything from animation, photography and vlogging to setting up an Etsy shop, a Patreon account or even how to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich!

For more ways to make money online, check out this video by Irish blogger Janet Newenham, aka Journalist on the run. Janet is an experienced journalist, who has been blogging for over 10 years. Currently focusing on video, she is now building up a strong following on YouTube too.

Janet has a great no-nonsense, honest approach and is really generous in sharing her knowledge. You can also read her detailed post about starting a blog. Though it’s geared towards travel blogging, most of the info is relevant for any type of blog. 

Teaching English Online

People who can teach English online are also very much in demand right now, so this could be a good avenue to check out if you have the interest or have previously done a TEFL course and can just follow up with the online teaching course now.

The TEFL Institute of Ireland is also offering a 12% discount off all courses this Easter weekend. Just use the code EGGCELLENT. On Tuesday 14th April, they are also offering 50 x 30 Hour Teaching Business English courses. This is on a first come, first serve basis so if you’re interested you need to follow them on Instagram or Facebook and watch out for the code at 10am next Tuesday.

Health and Wellness

Another great website for all types of classes is CreativeLive. Right now you can stream some of their health & wellness classes for free. That something we probably all need to put a bit more time into at the moment. They also have daily On Air Classes that you can sign up to for free, so it might be worth checking out to see if there is anything of interest.

Movies and Books

I’ve got a list of old classic Irish films, like The Quiet Man and The Field that I’ve been meaning to watch for ages! Now seems like a good time to finally get around to that. There are also lots more recent ones I want to see too. If you have any recommendations let me know. I’ll put together a list of my favourites soon in a seperate post.

If you haven’t already heard of it, check out Volta. It’s an Irish on-demand site with a great selection of both Irish and international independent films. There’s no subscription fee and you can rent films from as little as €2.99 or buy from €6.99.

I’m also planning on working my way through some books. I seem to go through phases and haven’t been reading a lot lately. My mam on the other hand is a prolific reader, so passes on stacks of books that I never seem to get through. So I won’t be running out any time soon.

If you don’t happen to have a stash of books to hand, you can check out this blog post which details 10 sites where you can read books online.

Enjoy some theatre or live music!

Ticketmaster have a great Stay at Home Guide on their website. It includes theatre shows which you can watch from home, live stream gigs, concert films to watch on Netflix and more. They are also setting stay at home challenges every week with €50 Ticketmaster gift cards up for grabs.

Learn A Language

No, I don’t think everyone needs to learn a new language during lockdown…unless of course you want to! However, I’ve been learning (or at least trying to learn!) Portuguese for a few years now in the hope that I’ll one day be able to have a conversation with my Brazilian in-laws.

I use Duolingo most days for maybe 10 – 15 mins and it has made a huge difference. It’s a completely free app, if you don’t mind ads. I don’t find them very intrusive at all but if you do, you can upgrade to premium.

Duolingo has been great for building up my vocabulary but I know I won’t progress until I start talking and stop worrying about how silly I sound. So I plan to up my learning to at least 30 minutes a day now and actually try and practise conversation with José too. We have tried this before and lasted about 5 mins each time but I’m determined to succeed this time. So watch this space…maybe I’ll even be blogging in Portuguese next!

If you’re on the search for other apps, check out this blog post with 18 free language learning apps.

Treat Yo Self!

I know money is tight for a lot of us right now but even the smallest treat can do wonders for yourself or for someone you know who might be struggling. Now is a great time to support small Irish businesses, many of whom are offering reduced or even free shipping during this time. You can treat yourself or someone you love and with the added feel good factor of helping to keep a small business afloat.

There are lots of ideas in my previous Gift Lists, though you will have to check if individual businesses are currently open right now.

You can also check out Sustainable Fashion Dublin on Instagram. They are hosting a virtual flea market on their Insta every Saturday. So you get to check out some amazing sustainable, locally-produced and preloved items from talented Irish creatives. You could also be lucky enough to win €20 towards your favourite item. Give the girls a follow for more details.

So now you know what I’ll be up to for the next few weeks. Though I might just get back to Netflix and eating chocolate for the weekend. Plenty of time for all this next week! Have you got any plans that you’d like to share? Let me know and whatever you do get up to, take care, stay safe and have a nice Easter.

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