Six Things I’m Doing During Safer at Home – The Good and Not So Good

It’s important to me to use this time meaningfully to do things I  can’t normally do. I was working from home during the first month of the shutdown. My job kept me very busy, and it didn’t feel like I was benefitting from having more time at home. Then I was laid off – left to manage my goals without restraint. 

Am I managing to achieve my goals while having total freedom? What am I doing or not doing?


1. Walking (Almost Every Day)


I’m proud to say, since the shutdown began, I made it a point to take this time to makes sure my dog gets to walk regularly. We go out most evenings generally from 20-45 minutes, sometimes even more.

It’s been almost two months. We visit different streets and in explore nearby neighborhoods – more than when I used to walk him sporadically. It’s interesting to see the various types of houses, landscaping, and even the personalities of the people we encounter. There is house with a horse and buggy carriage in the front yard and another with a sign for a college graduate on the lawn.

Something not so good also happened. My dog got bitten in the face by another dog. The angry dog ran out of his open gate and attacked my dog, but this did not deter my dog’s excitement for the daily walks, and I grew in resilience nursing his wound. Fortunately, everything has been good since then. 


2. Exercising


Before the shutdown, I had a steady routine of going to the gym 4-5 times a week, usually in the mornings before work. When I was working from home it took effort to do this before my workday started, but I was still exercising even if it was less consistent.

Now, I struggle to get a routine going again. However, since I  walk regularly, I feel justified in being gentle with myself and giving myself a break on this one. 


3. Not Watching the News Too Much


I watch or read small spurts of the news. But experts don’t know a lot about the virus yet. There’s no point in talking about it too much in and getting anxious. 

It is important to be informed about what is going on in society. People are accomplishing great things standing up for rights they feel are endangered, but we all perform different roles. Important acts can be big like opening your business so your employees can earn money, and they can be little like asking if your neighbor needs items from the grocery. 


4. Writing


I lost my job a few weeks ago. Wanting to DO something still, I decided to open a resume writing business. This was a reasonable idea because I have helped friends and colleagues write or update their resume over the years. Since I knew so many people who would be looking for jobs, this was the optimal time to go for it. Except for one little detail, I wasn’t very excited about this idea. 

The resume idea quickly fizzled out, at least for now. Since my goal is to use this time to accomplish things that are meaningful to me, I decided to return to a novel I started writing three years ago. So here I am, starting the second draft. (And this blog post is my sneaky attempt at procrastinating today.)


5. Zoom Calls and Video Chats


I am someone who HATED video chats with passion. But exposure to a stimulus is the best way to either get over strong feelings or build a habit. I had to participate in conference calls for work. I didn’t use video; however,  it was the first step in getting me accustomed to conversing on the computer. 

Then my friends started having weekly Zoom Cocktail Hours. I begrudgingly agreed to participate, but after each one ended, I found I enjoyed myself. Plus, it was interesting to see each friend in their own environment.

Next, my family had an unprecedented call for my niece’s birthday last week. We gathered from different states and countries to wish her a happy birthday. It was special since all of the generations came together, which was something that happened a lot when I was growing up, but the next two generations after me did not get to experience. The culmination was yesterday, on my birthday, I happily participated in many video chats and calls with friends and family.


6. Not Thinking About What I Want to do Next (Yet).


Like many people who found themselves jobless recently, I will have to start applying for jobs soon. That also involves figuring out what I want to do next. Do I want to go back to the same type of work I did recently? 

I liked most things about it, but I would like to have at least some work that I accomplish rather than only writing about what other people do. That’s probably also why I have always been reluctant to dive into writing resumes. 

In the past, when I stepped off the carousel to figure out what I want to do with myself, everyone kept going. Now, most of the world is at a pause.  And things are going to be different for those returning to their jobs for the foreseeable future. This is a good time to reflect and reevaluate what’s next. 


I believe the world is collectively experiencing this for a reason, and we will come out of it when it’s time.

Life is all about adapting our actions and striving to be better, whether it involves a national or international crisis, or facing our daily struggles. We need to try to act as safe as possible with the information we have, but in some ways there’s not much else we can do but ride it out and have faith that things will work out. 

So this is what I’m doing now. I’m trying to enjoy each day. 


Go to the Dentist!


How long has it been seen you have gone to the dentist? I know of people who are afraid to go but I believe putting it off just makes things worse, potentially compounding whatever issues they might have. 

I went a few weeks ago, I usually go a little more than the recommended six months, I go every four months to get a cleaning. I’ve found it helpful because I’m diligent about flossing when I go and then it gradually tapers off, so by the time four months roll around I’m not really flossing anymore. 

I imagine what keeps people from going is they’re afraid of hearing bad news and needing lots of work on their teeth. But I think putting it off makes it worse, whereas if you go regularly, it won’t be so bad. Maybe you’ll have one cavity, but if you don’t go for two years you could have six. Taking care of our teeth is not actually that hard most of the time. So, how long has it been since you’ve gone to the dentist?

Recipe: Instant Pot Vortex Plus Broiled Chicken Thighs

Instant Pot Vortex Plus Broiled Chicken Thighs

Note: I purchased a Vortex and was not able to find information on how long to broil chicken thighs, so I created this recipe as a guide to help others. I explained how I seasoned the chicken, but feel free to season the chicken another way.


3 Defrosted Skinless Chicken Thighs

2 Garlic Cloves Chopped

¼ Onion Chopped

Italian Seasoning

Butter (3-6 1/8th inch slices of butter)


  1. Season three chicken thighs with onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning and let it marinate for an hour.
  2. Before placing chicken in the Vortex add butter on top of the thighs.
  3. On the Vortex, press ‘Broil’, the temperature will set to 400 degrees
  4. Adjust the cook time to 10 minutes.
  5. Allow the Vortex to preheat (approximately 5 min).
  6. When the screen says ‘Add Food’ place the trays (chicken tray and the drip tray) in the Vortex. (I used to top row, but next time I would try the middle).
  7. After 10 minutes turn the chicken thighs over and put back in the oven. (It will have to preheat again, if you prefer you can put the chicken in or wait. If you do put the chicken in now, you will have open close the door when it tells you to Add Food.
  8. Let the chicken cook for 10 minutes. Once it’s done remove once the Vortex says it’s done. Note: Be sure to check the chicken to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly.
  9. Enjoy juicy chicken thighs with sides of your choice!

The Magic of Books

I really like book apps like Kindle that allow you to read on your device. It’s amazing to be able to carry an entire library on your phone. I could read a few pages while standing in a store line or waiting for an appointment to start (I say could cause I don’t actually do this much.). Reading on a device also allows me to be leisurely and drink a cup of tea while reading, I have a free hand to hold my tablet or phone to do so. And of course, how amazing is it that books can be beamed to us now and can be purchased at any time? 

Even if I wanted to read a real book, I could get it at the library for free. But, I recently allowed myself to purchase a book at Barnes and Noble. I like to buy something at the bookstore because I feel like I am helping save an endangered species. What book did I get so enchanted with that I purchased it despite major concerns of what I would do with it after I read it? Danielle Steel’s Magic. 

I really enjoyed reading it. And gasp! I bought a second book at the airport last week. I’m not sure if this is an anomaly or a growing trend. I got rid of two bookcases of books around five years ago. I am always decluttering, so we’ll see how this goes. But there is something nice about flipping through the pages and reading words on actual paper. Although having a library deadline is sometimes motivating to complete a book in a timely fashion. it just feels nice to see my copy of Magic on the table, perhaps because I journeyed with those characters and watched them grow and they are still close by for me to visit. 

Instant Pot Adventures

I bought an Instant Pot on Prime day and it has made me 100% more excited about cooking because it’s so easy and quick. I have been wanting to write about what I’m doing, but I’ve been so busy actually using it, there hasn’t been time. I came up with this list as to why I like it so much.

  1. I don’t like to smell food cooking when I cook. I don’t mind so much if other people are cooking. But by the time I spend time preparing the food and then smelling it cook, I don’t want to eat it anymore.
  2. I’ve gone rogue a few times because I didn’t realize I wasn’t reading an Instant Pot recipe, and everything has turned out fine. I tried to make Shepherd’s pie and Chicken Scampi and realized I either read the recipe wrong or did not have an instant pot recipe to use. I looked up a few other recipes for the Shepherd’s pie but they used different ingredients so I basically just tried to figure out how long to cook it and did my own thing. For the Scampi, I went totally rogue and made it with orzo because I wanted to try cooking it. (7 min on manual).
  3. The yogurt is amazing. Amazing, that’s I all I can say other than how thrilling it is when you open the pot in the morning and your ingredients actually smell like yogurt.
  4. I love sautéing in the same pot I am cooking in.
  5. I like cooking in the same pot I am mixing ingredients in (not always but it still helps).
  6. I love the scent of sautéed garlic.
  7. The perfection of the hard boiled egg. Although I normally like my eggs a little runny, they don’t get too hard, so they taste wonderful.
  8. It’s interesting to learn techniques for improving. The first time I made chicken breast I left it in the liquid and it didn’t retain the seasoning. The texture was soft as opposed to oven chicken so I liked that about it, but it was bland. The next time I cooked it on a trivet and also used more seasoning. I also tried sautéing it and then cooking it.
  9. I get a practical way to get my mom’s cooking wisdom: My mom doesn’t really like cooking and doesn’t think she cooks well as other people in the family, but it’s what I grew up eating and to tell the truth, my friends have enjoyed her cooking so it can’t be that bad. But as I try new recipes, I usually have to ask her something. For example, I was trying to grate nutmeg recently and I was scraping away for a moment and realizing nothing was happening so I asked and my mom said I was grating the shell and we laughed. She then proceeded to get a half of one, but she did it herself. (She tries to be helpful and do it, but then I don’t learn. Also, She gets impatient watching if I’m going slow and tries to do things. Or, she’ll want to wash things and put them away when you’re still using it…ok – I’m done telling on my mother!).
  10. Food cooks faster! Short Ribs took 35 minutes to cook as opposed to 2 1/2 hours!
  11. A chance to improve my dicing and mincing skills. I’ve always wanted to learn how to chop vegetables expertly. I’m not sure how well I will master this because I bought a pampered chef chopper to make things faster. But, there’s always still a little chopping involved.
  12. You don’t have to babysit or keep checking on the food when it’s cooking.
  13. Grocery shopping is more fun as I look for ingredients for my recipes.

Beef Short Ribs

Cold Start Yogurt

Sheperd’s Pie

Butterfly World

You know how when you go on a trip, you plan to go see all the sites and you rarely visit the attractions in your hometown?

Butterfly World has been a place where I have always wanted to go to but kept putting off. It’s 30 miles away, not incredibly far, but far enough that I kept putting it off.


But on this particular day, I was attending an event even further away and Butterfly World was actually on my way home, so I decided to go. Because I decided to go spontaneously, I didn’t have my fancy DSLR camera, but I did at least have my selfie stick (purchased for just such outings) in my trunk.


It’s a little pricy at $30 for adult admission, but your funds are going toward a good cause to fund research and protect the wildlife. You can get an annual pass for double that, which I was tempted to purchase, but it had taken me years and years to get there in the first place, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it back soon.






Your self-guided tour begins indoors where you can see specimens of butterfly development and seeing the scientists doing their thing. Then you reach the Butterfly Garden. There is a walkway among the plants and all kinds butterflies flutter dreamily around you as you explore the habitat.


You meander around and admire the colors, see then feeding on bananas, and feel the mist of the tropical waterfall. Peaceful classical music plays softly in the background and there are benches where you can sit and maybe a butterfly will land on you.


I took lots of pictures and videos. But the photos don’t do it justice. The videos capture the beauty of the butterflies. My favorite is the slow-motion video (the first video below).  It makes me feel like I’m underwater watching fish swim around me. It’s so relaxing I didn’t want to leave.

Butterfly World isn’t incredibly big, but it’s delightful to experience the kaleidoscopes of butterflies floating around you. For $1 you can buy a booklet that shows all the butterfly species, but they’re so mesmerizing to watch, you’re not going to want to be sticking your nose in the book.


When you’re ready to move on, the attendant checks you to to make sure you’re not carrying any “hitchhikers”  and you can check out the other wildlife residing at Butterfly World. There are areas for parakeets, parrots, and other birds. There are also beautiful flowers and plants. And of course, a gift shop.

Sometimes when I experience an attraction, I enjoy it but don’t think I will have a desire to do that again. This is something I would definitely do again.







When Doves Cry

img_6108-e1560116530755.jpgLast month I discovered an injured ringneck dove in my yard. It was Thursday night. I’ve been feeding the wild birds for six years and have doves, sparrows, blue jays, and cardinals as regulars so it was normal to see a dove. I had let my dog out and normally they flight into the tree but this one was not able to take flight.

His left wing hung awkwardly. We caught him (my mother and I. Not my dog and I) and placed him in a shoe box. At my mother’s suggestion, treated the bare spot underneath about the size of a chicken McNugget with iodine soaked cotton ball because she believes in using iodine for all wounds. I googled bird wounds and found something at the pet store, but my mother believes so firmly in iodine she convinced me that was enough.

The first night I kept him in a covered milk crate. He was a little spooked and cowered down whenever I went near him, but as time went on he perked up confidently. The crate didn’t have much room for him to move but at least he could see through the grates. The next day put him outside in the crate so he could be near the wild birds.

Feeling bad that he didn’t have much room, on Saturday morning, I let him roam around on the porch. At first, he remained on the broomstick perch but then when we left him alone he roamed about the room.

We decided to let it out in the yard to experience a taste of freedom and socialize with his dove friends, he explored the yard a bit, perching on a palm branch and then made a break for the fence and tried to escape through the chain-linked fence. He was still fairly subdued and was easy to catch but he had to return to the crate after that.

Fortunately for him, I had a bright idea and he was blessed with a room upgrade. I set him up in a personal shopping cart.  I laid newspaper on the bottom and placed a file box lid on top and voila it was a birdcage on wheels! I could even stick a branch through it and he had a perch.


By Saturday night we decided his wing was still hanging awkwardly and time alone wouldn’t heal it. When I first encountered him I was concerned with the wound, I thought if that healed he would be able to hold his wing normal but now I became concerned that the wing needed to be set a particular way to heal. I googled what to do for an injured bird wing and saw a clever post using a sock. It said to cut out the toe and cut a place for the bird’s legs in the sock and slide it over the bird to hold the wing in place. I can see how this probably would have been more comforting (though constricting) for the bird. I’m still didn’t think I was qualified to be providing medical treatment. So I decided I would take him to the South Florida Wildlife Center the next day.

I knew about the center because I found an injured a black bird in my yard a few years ago. That time I didn’t have notions of rehabilitating it myself. I immediately searched online for where to take an injured bird and found the South Florida Wildlife Center and took him there. I didn’t even know what the other bird was until I received a letter from the rescue calling it a grackle.

Coming back to the current patient, when it came time to take him to the wildlife center, I placed him in the carrier (the milk crate). I said my goodbyes, genuinely feeling a little sad not to have him around anymore, but knowing he was going to be in better hands. I put him into the crate and secured him in the car.


I arrived at the South Florida Wildlife Center and there was a tall blonde man carrying a creature in a giant Rubbermaid bin (big enough to fit a 50-pound dog). The wildlife attendant manning the desk had just identified the creature as a European something (bird) and the guy was amused cause he was going to Europe tomorrow. I peeked into the bin and it was a tiny bird, he was much smaller than my poor dove in his red milk crate.

When it was my turn, I filled out a short form providing my personal information and explaining what care or medication I provided to the dove. I glanced at the whiteboard as I waited for my turn and saw that the wildlife center received 55 animals yesterday! The place survives purely on donations and I couldn’t imagine how they sustain it. I had only heard about it because I searched for a place to take an injured bird in the past. My mom made a small donation into their box and I promised to give more next month.


The attendant came to me and placed the dove in a clear Rubbermaid shoebox container with breathing holes and transported him to the care area. In a moment my little friend was gone.

There are shelters for domestic animals, but it’s nice to know there is a place looking out for the wild animals as well. I found the dove in my yard, but the man with the little European bird found him on a public median and took the time to bring him in. I thought that was admirable.

I offered to pick the dove up when he got better. The attendant said he would make a note in the file but they usually just let the birds go if they get better. I haven’t heard from them, but I’m hoping the dove found his way back and he’s still coming by for meals.


Keeping the Beaches Beautiful

Beach LitterLitter always saddens me. When there is a trash can nearby, I sometimes pick things up. Most of the time I don’t do anything besides wonder why people can’t throw things away properly.

But with the straw controversy and constantly hearing animals being impacted and harmed by human trash, it tipped me in favor of trying to make a small, personal step.

Inspired by an image I saw on Facebook recently; I took a plastic bag with me to the beach to pick up 3 pieces of trash.

Bear on the BeachI visited the beach on a weekday. It wasn’t crowded, so I had access to more surface area. In about five minutes I picked up at least a dozen bottle caps, a wine cork, a child’s plastic toy, plastic wrappers, and other things in a 25 square foot area.

Shortly after this, I saw a commercial on TV for an organization called 4Ocean working toward cleaning up the oceans. They sell bracelets to support their efforts. I think this is great but even if you don’t want to make a donation or buy a bracelet, we can all do something in the space around us.

Remembering to take the plastic bag and pick up trash myself made me feel like I made a difference. I felt happy to know that stuff wouldn’t get carried into the ocean to endanger an animal and was able to relax and enjoy the beach with my dog.


How Our Enemies Can Make Us Holy — If We Let Them

Sunday readings for February 24, 2019

It’s easy to notice when people mistreat me. In this week’s reading, Jesus instructs the disciples how to react when we are mistreated. I thought about times I’ve felt mistreated and came up with these instances.

– The person in the parking lot who rushes past me as I’m trying to back out

– The person who steps out in front of me in the mall and then walks slowly and I can’t pass

– The person that knocks into my chair at a restaurant

– The person at work who gives me a hard time

– The person who interrupts me when I’m talking at a meeting

When mistreated, my reaction might be to get annoyed, desire to seek revenge, or withdraw. But Jesus instructs us on how to deal with these situations.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.”

(From Luke 6)

Another way to look at Jesus’ teaching is to reflect on my own behavior Do I get in anyone’s way? Do I bother others in a way that wouldn’t even register on my radar?

I can have instants of being hateful when I feel like someone is not respecting my time or distracting me from something I’m trying to focus on. I don’t mean to be this way, but I don’t recognize it in the moment.

Jesus boiled down the Ten Commandments to two commandments.

Love the Lord with all your heart and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Loving the Lord means following the commandments which are there to protect and enrich our lives — not limit us. How we love our neighbor is laid out in Jesus’ words. Often when someone is hurting, they hurt others. If we react with hatred the negativity will snowball. That is the difference to live as Jesus teaches us versus how we might want to react.

Jesus instructs us on exactly what to do, how to treat our enemies: Bless them, pray for them, give them what they are seeking, offer ourselves, and give what we have. I believe this translates into connecting with them instead of withdrawing — which is our human nature to do, or at least it’s my nature to want to avoid troublesome people.

What Jesus is telling us to do allows us to connect with others and reveal the kingdom of God to them, which was what he came to do when he took human form. It’s not easy though. As I sit here reflecting on what I wrote, I am struggling to imagine following my own words, struggling to even want to react differently than I do when someone hurts me or takes something for me. Hopefully there is someone out there praying for me when I hurt them, helping me to be better.

Touring London on the Hop on Hop off Bus

The hop on hop off tour bus is a great way to see London because famous sites are spread out across the city. The bus allows you to get a taste of everything and a chance to get familiar with the area. You can stay on the bus the entire time or hop off and go exploring and catch another bus later. Riding the tour bus also limits the decision making needed to be made when deciding what to see if you’re traveling with others. One drawback of staying on the bus the entire time you may not get to experience everything intimately, but you get a really nice overview of the city.

My friend Tracey and I did the tour on our last full day of London rather than the first day. We went well informed of our many sightseeing options but without too much of a preset agenda.

We met the bus near St. Paul’s Cathedral which was two blocks and a short walk across the Millenium Bridge away from our fabulous hotel the Hilton Southbank which is in the neighborhood called Southwark (pronounced Suth-uck).

The Millenium Bridge (of Harry Potter fame)

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, London Tower, and Buckingham Palace were some of the famous sites we experienced from the top of our double-decker bus. We hopped off at Picadilly Circus for some souvenir shopping.

Picadilly Circus- Circus means Circle

While I always ponder how Maroon Five’s song Payphone was so successful when the target audience wasn’t alive when payphones were prevalent in the US, these red phone booths are all over London.

Storm Trooper Phone Booth? (Picadilly Circus)

The tour bus has multiple routes so you can get off at a site and hop on another bus covering a different area. After studying the map (which seems to be Tracey’s official job on trips she takes with friends), she figured out we could switch lines and go to Knottingham which was something she had really wanted to see. That route took us in the vicinity of Hyde Park and Harrod’s which were things I wanted to see but since they were so far out of where we were staying I hadn’t set my mind on it for this trip. But taking the tour allowed us to squeeze these places in.

Geese (I think) in the lovely Hyde Park


Very Cute British Dog in Hyde Park



The back of Kensington Palace, which is in Hyde Park. Where Prince Wiliam and Kate live. This was the home of Princess Diana and there is a memorial to her in the park.

The London Eye- A Ferris wheel, that was intended to be a temporary attraction for the Millenium celebration, is still there 18 years later.


We got off in Victoria and had a late lunch then reconnected to the bus line heading back to Southwark. We hopped off about a mile away which was not too far from a good view of the London Eye. It wasn’t dark yet though, those would have been beautiful pictures that I hope to get another time.

On the walk back we saw dragon statues and I almost got killed naively stepping into the bike lanes.  Though the only thing we experienced intimately that day was Hyde Park, we got a lay of the land and would have an idea of where things are and how to get around. We were both pleased with the day. Since there is so much more to see, I would like to go back someday.


Statues are everywhere in London, some of them are of dragons.

Fleet Street and St. Paul’s Cathedral as seen from the top deck of the Hop on-Hop Off tour.

More Fleet Street. This was around 6 pm on a Monday, people heading home from work. Bicycling is popular in London and in some places they have their own two-lane section of the road right beside the car lanes and their own lights.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

The train is called the Underground.

There are a few bridges connecting the North and South Banks of the Thames River. This is the Tower Bridge in the distance.

Tower Bridge near the Tower of London

On the Tower Bridge

Southwark Bridge (pronounced suh:thək)

Blackfriars Bridge

St. Paul’s at Night

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