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Unexpected New Skills While Staying Close to Home


Although stay-at-home orders didn’t turn me into a better homemaker, they did expand my horizons within the domestic sphere, and this old dog learned some new tricks. While my thumb is still black and my house is still…lived in…more time spent at home wasn’t a total loss.

In the midst of the stay-at-home orders, I had a produce delivery that included some romaine lettuce. I decided to try a hack I’d seen on Facebook (watching time-waster videos is another hobby I’ve picked up in corona-time). After I cut off the leaves, I put the leftover lettuce end into a glass of water on my kitchen window. I was blown away by the roots it sprouted and new leaves it grew. I kept changing the water and felt just like Ma Ingalls. Eventually, the roots got too large for the glass, and it seemed like dirt was the next best place for it. I planted it in the “garden” area in our backyard and within a day it was dead. Black thumb revived, I guess. But it was fun while it lasted.

I did have one gardening win this summer. My girls’ Sunday school teachers gave them each a saucer of impatiens as part of their Easter goodies. They came in a bag with a lot of stuff, and it took a week before I realized there were live plants inside! I got them out, set them in the backyard and watched them take off! With no help from me, they grew and flourished. I got some soil from a Target drive-up order and transplanted them into the planter next to our front door that normally just grows weeds (nice looking fern-like weeds, let’s be honest). A friend told me impatiens love water, and so at least every other day, I’d douse them with a watering can. The plants have grown so big and continued to flower, bringing me a bright spot every time I back out or pull into the driveway.

We have lived in our house for nine years, so this is our tenth Fall here. This is the first year I decided to pick up the pecans that fall from the huge tree growing next door. They drop all over our driveway, and we can always tell when someone pulls in this time of year because of the crunch while the pecans are smashed under tires. Once I started picking them up, I couldn’t stop. A meditative half hour each day became a mini Easter egg hunt, and together my family and I have filled a few bags. Shelling has been the real trick, but once the two-pack of nutcrackers I bought online arrived, my husband and I have been off to the races. Thing I learned: definitely toast the nuts–they are amazing as is, but transcendent when toasted in the oven. My girls and I made pecan sandies, and we’ve barely made a dent in our nut supply. I know to freeze the nuts as we shell them to keep them fresh and usable for longer. I LOVE free (and cheap!) stuff, so I’m surprised at myself for never making this effort before. Driveway-to-plate is pretty cool!

One other domestic thing I’ve learned in this season is sewing on uniform patches. Normally I’d have my sister do them when she’d come to visit from Oklahoma (not any time soon…) or just take the shirts/dresses to a dry cleaner and pay the buck for each patch to be sewn on. Carefully, carefully I have labored over these patches. Some look better than others, but they are all functional. OK, so I haven’t actually finished them all. But when school started hybrid style, my third grader only needed a uniform twice a week. Not all of last year’s are outgrown, so technically, I’m not that behind. Slowly but surely I’ll get them all sewn on.

Of course another, non-homemaking skill I’ve gained during the first six+ months of corona time is how to livestream a church service and make videos in general. But maybe that’s another post?

Have you unlocked any new levels in your life during this weird time in history? Do you have any gardening or pecan shelling tips? Hit me up in the comments!

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29 Sep 2020


By Mari Walker

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