101 Things to Do at Home

Holland is currently on lockdown, and I’ve been working from home for four straight weeks. All of Amsterdam’s shops and restaurants are closed, and we can only go outside if it’s absolutely necessary – to get groceries or a breath of fresh air. We’re adjusting to a new normal, which means no more shopping, friend time, dining out, or hitting the gym. And while I know there is a lot of uncertainty right now, I frankly feel happy as a clam because I am getting to do more of what I love, without the FOMO.Yes, I’m very active, and I love having new adventures and traveling, but I’m also a huge introvert. I don’t like big crowds or parties, I need alone time to refuel, and I prefer one on one time over large gatherings. So although I am missing dinner dates with Kai and Friday night cocktails with the girls, I am really digging all of the at-home time right now. I am using this extra down time to nourish my body, organize my home, stay healthy, relax, and bond with my husband. I know these times might not be easy for everyone, especially those who are not used to slowing down or spending lots of time indoors. So as a very organized and active introvert, I thought I’d spew off a few at-home activities I love – that you too can try out in in your newly founded home time :)

I suggest jotting down a few ideas from the below, or capturing any new ones as they spring to mind, and then visiting your list during your down time to jog your memory and see what you might be in the mood for.

So without further ado, here are 101 things to do at home!

{ BODY }

Yoga. Yoga is a relaxing at home exercise that can help strengthen your body and mind. I really like YogiApproved on Youtube – her voice is melodic and her classes vary in difficulty. Lately, Kai and I have been placing our yoga mats in the kitchen and doing a quick 30-minute candlelight yoga session before bed. This 30 Minute Gentle Flow is awesome if you’re looking to wind down for the day.

Stepper. I recently bought a nifty €60 side stepper (we unfortunately don’t have any room for bigger workout machines in our apartment!) so I’ve been using this little guy to get some movement in while I’m on calls or listening to a podcast. I purchased my stepper in Holland, but this is a similar stepper that’s less expensive and available on Amazon.

Morning stretching. Before you get out of bed, spend an extra ten minutes under the sheets, stretching in whatever form feels good for your body. Do some gentle spinal twists, breathe deep, flex your toes and ankles, roll your shoulders, or gently twist from side to side. Slowly wake up your muscles and give them a good stretch before you get going! I love the ideas in this Nike video here.

Long walks. Okay, so this activity technically takes place outside of the house (and I have a whole section on how to distance and still enjoy the outdoors coming up!) but here in Amsterdam, we’re allowed to go outside on walks (although we have to stay 1.5 meters away from others). So although we’re mostly home-bound, I’ve been going on a brisk morning walk to wake up and then a longer walk with Kai once we both wrap up our work days. I aim to do both in the sunlight so I can soak up plenty of vitamin D. Use the health app on your phone to track your steps, and set a goal to get to 8-10k per day.

Barre. In addition to walking and a few high intensity cardio workouts, barre is the bread and butter class I do at least 3-4 times a week. Barre workouts are designed to lean and lengthen your body, giving you firm definition without a bunch of bulk. Most barre classes are mixture of yoga, pilates, and ballet, done on a mat and at a barre, with weights and resistance bands. Think squats, lunges, crunches, pushups, and planks, in addition to weighted reps for isolated muscle-groups . . . all done to hot music with deep stretching in-between sets! While I normally go to Studio 191 here in Amsterdam, my new at home routine involves working out with Fitness Blender and Pameila Reif for free on Youtube.

Follow local gyms, studios, and instructors on social channels. While we’re talking barre, I should mention that many of my favorite instructors and studios are now offering either paid online classes or free digital workout content. If you normally go to a specific studio or class, trying following their social channels to see if they’re offering any kind of virtual workouts you can move to at home!

Song workouts. This is totally lame, but sometimes when I need a break from work or staring at my laptop screen, I blast my favorite high intensity song, grab a set of hand weights, and jam in a quick and dirty arm workout. I do 20reps of my favorite arm exercises (a mix of curls, rows, presses, and holds) for the duration of the song. My heart rate gets pumping, my endorphins spike, and then just like that the song is over and I’m back to my coffee and emails. While I usually cram in a quick arm exercise song workout, you could easily do squats and lunges for a bit more booty action, or even a quick burst of jumping jacks and knee lifts to your favorite song if you want some cardio.

Try a new Workout app. There are some seriously cool apps out there for working out at home. Try a new one for an exercise you know you love, or jump into a new type of workout all together. A coworker recently recommended Downward Dog, Gigi Hadid uses Sara Beth Yoga, and Kai and I love a good Nike Training Club workout (the latter is free and awesome!)

Dance! Turn up your favorite beats or put on a record you haven’t listened to in ages, and dance. Move around the house, use props, get sexy on the furniture, sing to yourself in the mirror, and embarrass your roommate(s) as much as possible! Have fun, let loose and move!

Meditation. Become more mindful throughout the day or find a deeper sleep by practicing meditation. Headspace is a great app to start with. Kai and I often do a deep breathing or quick meditation after work or before bed to wind down.

{ SLOW TIME }

Read. Is there a stack of books that have been sitting on your shelf for ages? Perhaps a friend recently recommended a new book, or you paused half way through your beach read at the end of your last holiday. Well, now is a great time to resume that novel or start a gripping new book! If you have an e-reader, your local library may have an iCloud collection you can borrow from for free at home. Alternatively, you can usually find inexpensive, second hand books online. I have a Kindle, and buy all of my books digitally from Amazon. I like to peruse through the latest lists on Good Reads and add any books that sound appealing to my ‘want to read’ list. I then download four or five samples from this list onto my Kindle, start reading, and buy whatever I get sucked into! I recently read the Throne of Glass series and thought it was a super engaging, light read . . . that consisted of seven books and took me almost two months to get through!

Make Art. I’m keeping this one broad because there are so many fun mediums to experiment with at home! I love water coloring, and will often re-create my favorite travel snaps by hand. My sister loves to draw with sharpie markers. Kai’s mom is prone to acrylics and fills her home with her colorful, stunning art. You could collage, sketch, sculpt, craft, or design. You don’t have to be good to enjoy, so try something new or get inspired by searching for different art project ideas on Pinterest.

Listen to podcasts. Podcasts are great for multi tasking. Because you don’t need to watch anything with a Podcast, you can pair listening to your favorite personality along with a baking session or a long bike ride. I love to pop on a podcast while I eat breakfast (if I’m solo) or listen to the day’s daily news while I cycle into work.

Handicrafts. While I’m partial to sewing and knitting, there are dozens of handicrafts you could perfect in your home time – jewellery making, basket weaving, experimenting with leather, fermenting your own beer, exploring floral design, or even trying your hand at woodworking.

Binge on a Netflix series. I’ll be honest here, Kai and I don’t own a TV, and you’re much more likely to find us talking, creating, or playing than watching. That said, if you’re feeling particularly sluggish and want a no-brainer activity, dive into a new Netflix series. I watched The Witcher in my free time over the holidays and LOVED it. Love is Blind is a guilty pleasure series perfect for watching while you soak in the tub, and Baby is a short Italian series about two wealthy girls in Rome who get wrapped up in a prostitution ring. Don’t Fuck With Cats is . . . well I’m not going to give this one away, but OMG watch it! Cheer is a light and feel good docuseries that follows Navarro College, the nation’s best junior competitive cheer squad. I’m pretty lame and those are the only five shows I’ve watched on Netflix in the past six months. But don’t feel guilty if you want to use this time to crush a new series – television and film are awesome art forms that can transport us around the world and to new dimensions, without ever having to leave the house.

Puzzle. Kai and I keep a large, Styrofoam board under our couch, and it always has our latest puzzle splayed out on it! Puzzling is a great, passive way to keep your brain ticking or your hands busy as you listen to a podcast, drink a glass of wine, or chat on the phone.

Journal. For me, this means editing travel photos and posting them here on Amsterdam & Beyond. But journaling can take many forms and could mean bullet journaling, jotting down your dreams, logging a thought a day, writing in a personal diary, or even starting a private Tumblr account where you type your personal thoughts, songs, or poetry.

Play board games. I’m a huge fan of word and strategy games! Kai and I will often play Yahtzee while drinking a glass of wine on Friday night, Monopoly on a rainy Sunday, or a card game in bed. If you live alone, challenge your friends online to a game of Words With Friends or get a drawing challenge started with your family on Instagram!

Catch up on digital reading. I have a list of blogs and e-magazines that I love, covering everything from health, to travel, lifestyle to cooking. I love making a hot cup of tea and then stealing Kai’s i-Pad to catch up on all of my favorite online reads!

Break out the video games. While I’ve never been a big video game person, Kai and I do occasionally hook up our Mini Nintendo to the projector and battle it out in Super Mario over a big bowl of popcorn.

{ PROJECTS }

Print photos and make albums. I know you have a thousand iPhone photos you’ve been meaning to sort through – now is the time!! Go through all of your old vacation photos and make a travel album, or get that baby album started while you can!

Learn a new language. I am currently attempting to learn German, my husband’s first language. I have a beginners German workbook that I am reading, and flip through German flash cards over my salad at lunch. There are also a ton of great audio and e-learning apps to help you dive into a new language if that’s your cup of tea! You might not be able to go to Italy right now, but you can still start practicing the basics for your 2021 trip!

Get ahead of the 2020 birthday cards. One of my 2020 goals was to get a birthday calendar filled out, and then start posting birthday cards to my closest family and friends in the mail. I’m notoriously bad at this – is there a moment in time I should have magically morphed into an adult and started mailing out birthday cards?! This home activity is three step process – get a birthday calendar, collect and write down all of the most important birthdays (along with the year they were born so you can keep track of the big ones!) and then make homemade cards (or buy them online) for all of the up coming birthday celebrations! You can even pre-address and stamp your cards, so they’re all ready to pop in the mail a week or two in advance of the big day!

Handyman tasks. Make a list of the little handyman tasks you’ve been wanting to accomplish around the house, and get them DONE. For Kai and me this means painting a some plastered spots on our walls, hanging curtains in the bathroom, and staining our kitchen table. There’s no time like the present!

Make new playlists. I love making new Spotify playlists! Click through what your friends are currently jamming to, or listen to your Discover Weekly, and add any songs you like to a new spring playlist! You can make a new playlist for running, at home yoga, or your next kitchen dance party.

Get new art or photos for your walls. If you’re going through all of your iPhone photos to make albums, consider printing out a few to adorn your walls. Or refresh the prints you currently have hanging in your living room with new art. Now is the time to support local businesses and artists in any way we can!

Online courses and talks. Home time is great for learning. Check out all of the SXSW talks from your field of business, or take a free online class – like The Science of Wellbeing from Yale.

Make your home more green. Experiment with making your own natural cleaning products. Swap out your current light bulbs for LED. Unplug electronics not in use. Replace paper towels with reusable cloths. Swap out sparkling water and sodas for a soda stream. Invest in a good water filter and ditch the bottles. Go through your makeup and slowly start to replace anything with unknown ingredients and chemicals with natural products.

Get yo’ life admin done! Do your taxes. Call the bank about that mysterious credit card charge. Re-plan your upcoming travel plans. Check on your student loans or calculate your mortgage payments for next year.

Mend your clothes. That small tear along the seam of your dress? The missing button on your jacket? Take out your needle and thread and save some money by mending your clothes at home (which is great to do while listening to a podcast!)

{ KITCHEN }

Dive into the wonderful world of preserves. Experiment with making your favorite preserves, pickles, and jams. These are my all time favorite easy overnight pickles, but you could also experiment with kimchi, seasonal jams, sauces, or pickled vegetables.

Go homemade. What are the items that you typically buy pre-made due to time restraints? For Kai and me, this list includes granola, almond milk, seeded crackers, and hummus. Make a list of staples you typically buy from the store, and then start learning how to make your favorite go-to items at home! I’m currently really digging Amy Chaplin’s Whole Food Cooking Every Day cookbook and have been doubling up on batches of her seeded crackers and nut milks!

Scour your cookbooks. Thumb through your favorite cookbooks and bookmark some new recipes you’d like to try!

Learn new ways to make your favorites. If you know me, you know my go-to for breakfast is a hot mug of tea and a refreshing smoothie bowl. Vegetarian soups and salads make up the majority of the other meals that Kai and I typically eat at home. This extra home time means more time to experiment with new recipes for our favorite meals! Try adding more vegetables to your smoothies, exotic fruits to your salads, or fancy cheeses into your soups. Browse Pinterest for new recipe ideas, and rotate some new favorites into your mealtime routine!

Perfect your caffeinated beverage of choice. Love drinking herbal teas? Buy fresh ingredients so you can make your own unique brews at home. Or see if your favorite coffee shop is still selling beans, and learn to make your daily oat milk flat white at home. I love whipping up new matcha concoctions, or foaming some homemade almond milk to make an earthy morning cappuccino.

Make meals in bulk. If you’re WFH like me, you’re eating at your kitchen table around the clock. To make your life easier, consider making some big-batch meals that you can easily heat up for lunch or dinner. I’ve been relying on my slow cooker for this – I love a good vegetarian chili, spicy pulled chicken, or a slow cooked tomato sauce! Tip: If you have a slow cooker, get crafty! You can use it for baking bread, making fancy crisps and cobblers, or simmering slow cooked fruit butters.

Try a new way of eating for a week or two. Since you’ll have total control over what goes into your mouth (no more mystery food in the cafeteria or fast food temptations!) now is the time to experiment with going sugar-free. Or perhaps you’d like to integrate meatless Monday into your routine. Try going a week without processed foods, buying all organic products, or even making a few vegan meals.

Have a candlelight dinner. Kai and I try to have a candlelight dinner at least once a week. What does this entail of? We open a bottle of wine. Light some candle sticks. Turn up the Sonos. Take out our cloth napkins. And cook a slow, romantic dinner together. We make spa water, dive into a recipe we’ve been wanting to try, and enjoy chopping shoulder to shoulder – tasting, and dancing as we cook! I love doing this with Kai, but I had a lot of solo candlelit dinners when I lived on my own as well! It’s essentially one night of the week where you elevate your cooking experience, and appease all of your senses as you prepare and enjoy your meal.

Experiment with homemade herb infused oils. I recently made this homemade chili oil and now smother it on everything I eat at home. Eggs, tacos, chicken, salads – you name it, it’s drowning in my spicy chili oil! And while I love a hot kick, you don’t have to love heat to enjoy an herb infused oil. There are hundreds of combinations you can make, perfect for zesting up a salad or your next pasta dish. Ginger, garlic, and lemongrass sounds divine, and lemon zest and thyme is next on my hit list!

Make your favorite comfort foods! Make your favorite comfort foods at home. Think warm cinnamon rolls, sticky chocolate fudge, or even a pumpkin pie! Who cares what season it is – if you need a warm hug from your favorite seasonal pie, now’s the time to whip it up at home!

{ ORGANIZING }

Sort through your kitchen drawers. Take everything out, wipe away crumbs, disinfect the drawer, toss or donate anything that’s outdated or unused, and then neatly put your items back. Some ideas to get you started: tackle your tupperware drawer, the pantry, or any cupboards containing plateware.

Marie Kondo you closet. Take everything out, and be brutal with what goes back in! Make a donation bag (I like to use a black trash bag because then you’re not at risk of glimpsing at contents and having second thoughts!), a trash pile (I’m looking at you, solo sock!), and a keep pile. Once you’ve sorted through everything, neatly organize the items you’d like to keep back into your closet. If I’m on the fence about donating something, I like to play a little game called If I think of you . . . It goes like this: If there’s something I just don’t have the heart to donate, I toss it into the ‘If I think of you bag’ which then gets sealed up and put in the spare room for a month. If I think of something I want in the bag, I’m allowed to go get it out, but if nothing crosses my mind, at the end of the month I donate it all without a second thought. And no looking in the bag before you give it away!! Just donate :)

Organize linens, towels, household textiles. That exploding drawer with seven hundred pot holders and tea towels? Empty it out, clean the drawer, move any stragglers to your rag bin, and neatly fold and place your textiles back into the drawer. Repeat for your sheets, towels, cloth napkins, table clothes, etc.

Clean out and throw away old beauty products. Go through all of your primping products and toss anything that’s expired or that you haven’t used in the past six months. For organizing my beauty products I have a simple three step method: 1) I keep everything I use weekly in the cabinet above my sink. 2) I keep the things I use monthly in a cupboard under the sink. 3) If I haven’t used an item in six months, it goes in the bin. Every month I move products I’m not using regularly under the sink. And then twice a year I go through all of my products and get rid of anything that’s expired or untouched. I do the same with our medicine box that’s also stored in the bathroom.

Label and organize spices. I have a zillion spices, in jars of varying shape and size. Consider buying a consistent style jar for your spices, and giving your spice cabinet a makeover! Or, simply go through and chuck any dried herbs or spices that are expired.

Refresh your tech. Go through your computer and trash any files that you no longer need. Clean out your downloads folder and tidy up your desktop. Empty you recycle folder. Remove any files or programs you no longer need. Set up a new desktop background and screen saver. Then, go through and do the same on your phone! Delete old apps and duplicate photos. Archive old chats. Buy a new phone case, and make sure you Clorox it regularly!! Extra geek tip: Consider adding folders to your email and organizing your correspondences.

Shop online for any niggling household items. Are there things that you’ve been meaning to replace or update for ages?! Now is the time! For example, I just bought a new needle for my record player. It’s been broken for about 18 months and I’ve just never had the time (or frankly mental capacity) to buy a new one. My new record player needle arrived in the mail this morning and I am currently listening to some of my favorite records I had completely forgotten about!

Organize your wine rack. This may be a slightly more niche activity, but we have so many bottles of wine from different trips, and they’re all different flavors and price points. We’re going to go through everything and add a sticker that indicates the region, and then write the cost and rating on the sticker. The Vivino app is perfect in this instance! If you don’t have a wine collection, what other collection do you have at home that could use a spruce up?

Arrange your book shelves and cabinets. Go through your book shelves and donate old books you no longer have an interest in, or pass them along to friends (in fact, this is a great time to stat a book swap!) Dive into the random cabinets of your house and start organizing! Clean out the coat closet, organize your camping equipment, toss out your dried up art supplies, buy tubs or bins to organize crafts, etc.

Get ready for a change of season. Whether or not we’re ready, spring is just around the corner! Clean out your closet so your spring and summer clothes are more prominent, and put away your winter coats until next season. Tuck away your hats and scarves. Or, go exterior and tidy up your yard or balcony and get it ready for a fresh new season!

{ CLEANING }

Wash sneakers, shoe laces. Remove the laces out of your sneakers and throw them into the washing machine. If you have cloth, nylon, or canvas sneakers that could benefit from a wash, remove the soles, wipe them down with a rag to remove any excess dirt, and then pop them into the washing machine as well. Attack your other shoes with a baby wipe or a Clorox wipe. Clean your nicer (example: leather) shoes with a commercial shoe cleaner and a soft brush.

Clorox down all purses and bags. Go through your purse collection with some baby wipes or a Clorox wipe and clean all handles, zippers, and straps. Gently wipe away any dirt. This practice can extend to wallets, belts, etc.

Scrub your suitcase. Since we’re not going anywhere any time soon, now is the time to give your suitcase a good scrub! I have a baby blue canvas suitcase and have to clean it once every six months or so. I fill up a large plastic bowl with some Oxiclean and warm water, and then scrub it gently with a rag and a cleaning brush. I then leave it outside or next to a heater to dry.

Iron or steam jackets, bathrobes. Are there any crinkled items sitting in your closet, abandoned from use because you just haven’t had the time to whip out the iron in the morning? Now’s your chance! Make a pile of the things you’d love to freshen up (linen pajamas, seasonal coats that you’re swapping into rotation) and then give them a quick iron or steam before putting them away neatly.

Dust your plants. House plants are prone to collecting dust and need regular cleaning to unclog their poor little plant pores! Get a damp washcloth and then gently rub the tops and undersides of your plant’s leaves until they’re clean.

Clean dishwasher, oven, microwave, fridge. I’m not going to tell you how to do this. Rather, pick one or two of your bigger appliances to clean and just do it! Behind me, my oven is gently humming away – and I know I know, you’re way overdue a clean!

Wipe down your windows. Kai and I do this once a year, but now that we’re spending even more time in the apartment, it’s important to scrub down our windows so our (only!) access to the outside world is clean and welcoming!

Wash hats, gloves. If you tend to wear makeup, your hat is probably crawling with residue. Give it a gentle hand wash to clean away any grime. Check the label on your gloves and scarves and add them to the hand wash pile, or toss them in the washing machine if the care instructions permit.

Dry clean your seasonal coats. I was stoked to see that our local dry cleaner is still operating. Get your winter wear cleaned before you tuck it away for the warm seasons.

Wash and iron curtains. When was the last time you washed your curtains?! Over time, your curtains will collect dust and grit, and should be washed once every 3-6 months. Read the care tag carefully before you toss them in the wash – I’ve definitely been a victim of shrunken curtains that had previously stretched from floor to ceiling!

{ WELLNESS }

Jade roll. I’m probably the only loser who didn’t catch onto this trend until JUST recently, but ohh my god jade rolling is taking YEARS off of my face. Although it’s sometimes marketed as a tool that can relieve puffiness and fine lines, for me the glory is in the massage! I didn’t realize how much tension I held in my temples, jaw, and cheeks, and jade rolling is an inexpensive and easy way to iron out all of the kinks. I love to have a quick rolling session before I go to sleep, or when I first wake up. I keep my jade roller on my bedside table and then take it into the bathroom with me every morning once I’m up to clean it :)

Infused waters and teas. Make a big jug of filtered water and infuse it with fresh cucumber, strawberry, mint, lime, basil, blackberries, ginger – there are endless herbs and fruits you you can toss in, and so many fun combinations to try! Some of my personal favorites are basil and strawberry, ginger and orange, and cinnamon stick and apple. Pop your infusion in the fridge for up to two days, and then take out the fruit if you’d like to keep the fruity water stored for longer.

Face masks. Face masks are a great way to rejuvenate your skin. I have an all-natural aloe vera mask that I LOVE (it’s from Dr. Baumann’s line and I get it from my esthetician) but sheet masks or even DIY face masks created from at-home ingredients are a great way to destress and chill.

Multi step skincare. A few months ago I read Local Milk’s 10-Step Skincare Routine and my mind was blown. I’d always been a pretty low key skincare kinda gal and would generally cleanse, tone, and moisturize with the occasional face mask – so imagine my shock to learn that some people also regularly use serums, oil cleaners, foams, acids, essences, and oils as part of their DAILY routine! I went through some of the recommended products and out of curiosity scooped up the Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm, the Commleaf Rice Purifying Cleanser, the Drunk Elephant T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial, the Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence and the CORSX Triple C Lightning Liquid. It’s not the full-monty, but it gave me a fun place to start experimenting with my routine. As of right now, I’m SO hooked on the Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm – I love to do a gentle sweep on my skin before I hop in a hot shower at night. I’m taking my time to integrate each one  into my routine so I can discover what my skin responds to the best. Now is a great time to play with your routine – if your skin doesn’t particularly agree to something, you’ve got the cover of quarantine to hide your face for a while!

Long baths. Baths are my at home-MO. As a gal who is always freezing, and spends a lot of Friday and Saturday nights at home, nothing warms me up and settles me in for the evening like a long, steaming bath. And if you’re going to take a bath, you might as well go all out! I’m talking bath bombs, candles, spa water, dim lights, bubbles, and a good book to read. I’ve also been known to take in some dark chocolate or the occasional glass of wine ;)

Paint your nails, toenails. All beauty shops in Amsterdam are closed, which means no more shellac for this gal! Before all of the madness started, I got my shellac removed, and have been watching my nails slowly return to good health after years and years of being filed down at the nail salon. I can’t wait to dig into my little polish bag (which has been hiding in the back of my closet for ages!) and spruce up my nails. Maybe a mint green to start, then a light peach for spring?!

Hair mask. Dwell a bit longer in the shower, and let your locks benefit from it! I have this adorable honey bear hair mask from Sephora, but really any leave-in hair mask or conditioner will do.

Learn to French braid. Every time I go on a trip with Amie, I am amazed by her braiding skills. She can knock out a €50 hair style in 5 minutes flat, and it’s mostly thanks to her amazing french braiding skills. Well – 2020 is the year I am goin to learn to do the same!! And if I suck, luckily there’s not much of an audience to witness it!

Dry brush. Body brushing is another new trend that I’ve recently started incorporating into my beauty routine. If you’ve never tried, it’s a simple dry-brush technique that exfoliates the skin, buffing away dead cells and increasing circulation. It’s a great way to wake your body up and reduce toxins. I keep my dry brush on the far side of the shower, and give myself a brisk brush a few times a week before popping in the water. Try incorporating it into your pre-shower routine twice a week.

DIY herbal face steam. If baths aren’t your thing or you’re simply missing the spa, create an at home face steam that will hydrate your skin, help you breathe deeper, and give you a healthy glow. Boil a kettle of water. While you wait for it to heat, give your face a good cleanse and tie back your hair. When the water is ready, carefully pour it into a large, heat resistant bowl. Add your favorite essential oils OR make your own herbal concoction from dried herbs and vegetables laying around the house – lavender, rose, chamomile, chai, rosemary, sage, mint, lemon juice, cucumbers, lemon peel, etc. Once your fragrant cocktail of choice has been added to the hot water, lean over the bowl (about a hand’s length away from the water), put a towel over your head, and enjoy! Steam for 10 minutes, or until the water cools. You can turn on some music or a podcast beforehand for even more zen!

{ GIVING }

Send flowers to a friend. If you have a friend whose having a particularly low day, or have a family member whose birthday party was canceled, consider sending a cheery bouquet of flowers to say I’m thinking of you!

Bake cookies for a friend. Alternatively, if you’re at home and feeling in good health, considering making some cookies, muffins, or fresh bread for a friend! Delivering little treats is a lovely way to stay in touch and say ‘I’m thinking of you’ without the constant line of in-person communication. I’ll caveat this one with a little *be careful* . . . . COVID19 can live on surfaces for up to 9 days, so I wouldn’t recommend dispatching cookies to every house in your neighborhood, or joining in on a cookie train if you or someone in your household is feeling under the weather *just* in case.

Be more patient. Maybe you’re working at from home with your spouse all day long and it’s a bit of a strain because you’re used to having your own space (raises hand!) Maybe you’re feeling frustrated with those who don’t respect your personal space when you’re out and about. Just keep in mind that we’re all in this crazy time together, and no one is coping perfectly. I had a moment today where I wanted to punch a bitch in the face in the grocery store because she not only walked up to me (violating the 1.5 meter rule here in Amsterdam) but she then audibly coughed in my face! A nearby store clerk looked at me, his eyes bulging from his head at her audacity! I could have let the verbal abuse fly, but instead I took a deep breath (after walking a safe distance away!) and let it go because the lady probably just has allergies and is completely oblivious to the world around her. Getting angry, upset, or annoyed with others isn’t going to fix anything. So be patient, kind and understanding with ohers, and it will be returned to you (IE. the place you live in your mind will be MUCH happier!)

Think ahead and buy birthday gifts. Know anyone with a birthday coming up in the next few months? Don’t wait until the last minute and instead do some online shopping (or at home crafting!) to get something ready for that special someone.

Donate to local hospitals, food banks, refugees. There are some really incredible response funds set up to help the most hard hit individuals in this time. If you want to donate your money or time, I suggest going local and looking into the needs of your community. That said, the World Health Organization also has a relief fund set up, and by donating to them your contribution will go right to the heart of the cause, as they are coordinating the global effort to prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID19 pandemic.

Shop local, support small businesses. Many business are closed, and unfortunately it’s the mom and pop shops that will suffer the most. Try to support local businesses in any way that you can – see if you can still shop locally online, or order takeaway from what’s typically your local dine-in restaurant. Think about shopping on Etsy to support the makers, or consider buying a gift card to a store that’s currently shut its doors. Kai has had a few races canceled, and in all instances he agreed to waive his bib costs so the organizers could still pay for sunk costs like tents and permits. Because of this, the events that he loves will still (hopefully!) have the funding to go ahead next year. If you really enjoy a local shop, restaurant, event, or cafe that’s being hit, ask how you can support at this time!

Call a friend. Lots of people are running on fewer hugs these days. Call or Facetime a friend and tell them how much you care about them. Share jokes or stories. Vent if you need to, but keep in mind that most of us just need a laugh or a smile :)

Ask your grandparents or parents if they need any help. With all of the suggested restrictions on those 60+, there might be people in your life who need a bit of extra help with groceries, prescriptions, or even a run to the hardware store. Ask how you can help.

Thank you notes or hand written letters. Receiving a hand written letter or post card is always an exciting and special treat – go the extra mile to tell those you love that that you’re there for them via old fashioned post!

{ OUTDOOR }

Grow herbs or veggies. Pot your little seeds! If you’re a beginner, start with herbs – they’re easy to grow and aren’t too fussy. Parsley, oregano, mint, coriander, basil, and chives are great for beginners! If you plant now, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor by summer :)

Clean your outdoor space. Sweep off your deck or pot your outdoor plants for the spring! Rake away debris that’s accumulated over the winter. String up your balcony lights! At our home, caring for our outdoor space means throwing our outdoor pillow cases and carpets in the wash, sweeping down the balcony, and getting some new flowers for the front and back of our apartment!

If you have a yard, enjoy a BBQ, bonfire, outdoor movie, or sunrise yoga. I am SO envious of those of you with a yard! And you don’t have to wait until the summer to start enjoying your BBQ or fire pit. Pull on a cozy sweatshirt and go outside! Have a beer by the BBQ and imagine it’s spring, and that you’re surrounded by friends! Project a movie outdoors, or stretch on your lawn as the sun comes up!

Jump rope. This is a great activity that will get your heart pumping that can be done in the local park or your yard!

Okay okay okay, so the rest of this section *technically* doesn’t take place at home. But they’re lovely ideas to help keep you occupied, and can still be done while everything is closed, at a safe distance.

Coffee walks. Kai and I have been going on an early morning coffee walk every once in a while. We plug in our headphones, taking calls and strolling along in the sun until we arrive at one of our favorite local coffee shops. Lots of small cafes in Amsterdam are still offering take away from a safe, curb-side distance. This little ritual has kept us sane! Get some sunshine, fuel up on caffeine, support a local business, and continue the productivity while you stroll!

Sunshine sitting. Take a chair curb, lawn, or canal side, and bask in the sun. Take a few calls. Eat lunch. Or simply read a book while picking up some rays.

Walking calls. I touched on this before, but if you have a call that is more of a brainstorm and you don’t need a screen, head outside and do some laps around your neighborhood while you chat!

Park yoga. Bring a mat or a towel to your local park (or set up on your balcony or yard if you’re lucky enough!) and do some stretching in the sun. You can move to your own flow or use one of the apps or Youtube channels I mentioned previously to guide your session.

Sunset strolls. After the work day wraps, scoot out for a walk and catch the day’s final rays. Try to find the best spot in your neighborhood or area to catch the last beams of sun.

Bike rides. Kai and I love going on a long bike ride when the weather is nice. Find a local trail, or cycle around your neighborhood after work. This is a great way to stay distant, have fun, and get in some exercise.

{ LOVER }

These next few ideas are things that Kai and I love to do together at home. But that said, you could easily do these alone, with a roommate, or even with the whole family!

Have a movie night. And I’m not talking about a ‘what’s new on Netflix’ kinda night. I’m talking the works. Make some stovetop popcorn. Smother it in melted butter. Pull out your couch’s sleeper bed (we LOVE doing this for a mega lazy movie session!) fire up the projector, and bring out the duvet and pillows from your bedroom. Make an incredibly plush and cozy movie-world where admission is free and pausing for the bathroom or more popcorn is perfectly acceptable!

Play. I mentioned board games and Yahtzee before, but I’m resurfacing this point in a more general sense, because Kai and I are total losers and like to play at any given opportunity. Example, last night I was in the bedroom reading and he was in the guest room doing laundry, and he called me on House Party and we started playing trivia together over the phone!  We have a stack of juicy question cards we love to flip through while we have a cocktail on Friday night. We dance in the kitchen. We make a competition out of who can clean the kitchen better. We fold socks and take turns dunking them into the basket. Literally, everything in our house is a game, which is probably why we *rarely* watch TV or movies together. Look around and you can find fun and play in everything you do!

Have a picnic. At our place, this basically means enjoying a meal anywhere but in the kitchen. However, instead of a casual dinner on the couch in front of the TV, make it special! Grab your checkered table cloth, lay it on the coffee table, light some candles, and have a cozy pop up meal in the living room! Breakfast in bed? Wine in the bathtub? Enjoy playing restaurant in different rooms of your house and make sure some theatrics accompany the food :)

Cook together a three course meal together. Let him surprise you with the starter and the dessert, and you whip up a main and a drink. Don’t tell each other what you’re making, but prep shoulder to shoulder and try to guess as you go!

Stargaze. Go on your balcony or back porch at night. Be still together, and look at the stars.

Bake cookies, cupcakes, or a cake – and decorate. This one is pretty straight forward. Whip up a batch of your favorite sweet treats, and then ice and frost together! This would definitely turn into a competition in our household, but everyone wins because we’re alllllll eating cookies in the end!

Make a fort. Remember that mega-bed couch I was going on about earlier when I mentioned movie night? Well, take it one step further and turn your cozy space into a fort! Suspend a large sheet over your bed or couch, and decorate with you fairy lights from Christmas. Play a game, eat popcorn, or even sleep in your fort for a night!

Have a surprise ‘restaurant’ dinner! Have your partner or roommate cook you both a three course dinner, and let them plan everything down to the music and wine. They should serve you as if they were the waiter in a restaurant! The following weekend, swap roles and it’s your turn to surprise them with your culinary masterpiece!

Daily happy hour. Set an agreed time a time when you both close the laptops and wind down from the workday together. Chill on the couch with a beverage (both alcoholic or non alcoholic work!) and chat about work or the day, get anything heavy off your chest, and then move into a relaxed evening at home! I especially like this one because it creates distance and a firm stopping time between the work day and home time, which for us both now occur at the same place.

Cocktails and appetizers for dinner. Some nights, Kai and I just want to graze and will set out tapenade, crackers, jam, baguette, cheese, olives, hummus, fruit, and veggie sticks to munch on. We’ll make a complimentary cocktail and then ta-da! Dinner is served! Ideally accompanied by candles, music, and a cozy spot on the couch! Graze and relax instead of fussing over a big meal.

Watch the sunset. Despite these crazy times, the sun continues to rise and set. Find a spot with a good view, and watch the sun make its final farewell for the day.

So what do you think?! What are you doing with your home time? I would love to hear any ideas or activities that aren’t on this list that have been keeping you occupied at home! Leave a note in the comments below :)

xo Ali

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