Staying Busy in Challenging Times

I have been feeling a lot of what I can only call the doldrums or weariness lately from the constant barrage of nothing but virus news on the newscasts, and a lack of focus when I am in my sewing and crafting space.  This past weekend, I abandoned my basement for some outdoor activity, and that did help clear my mind a bit.  I’ve also stopped watching much of the news.  I know I am going to be at home for the next six weeks and likely longer as North Carolina enters lockdown orders today, but thinking in those terms is overwhelming.  Are you feeling the same? While I was doing some clean up and a bit of gardening, my mind was free to ponder the problem, and I think I have come up with a solution for me, and maybe it will help you too.

I think my main issue is I have nothing to look forward to or plan for right now.  All my fun activities from quilt shows and meetings, car club drives, participating in the Easter parade, working the library book sale, the annual MINI event at Fontana, and speaking engagements, to lunches and dinners with friends are all canceled.  Normally about now would be the time to bring out all the rabbits and create some pretty tables, and maybe you’d be doing the same to get ready for a family gathering that cannot happen now.  It is easy to say ‘why bother?’  So, it occurs to me that the solution is to create some new goals, have a plan for the next couple of weeks, something to work toward.  So even though I have to put away my Easter parade hat for another year, I will make a plan to be productive for the time being, one week at a time.

Easter Bonnet at

In an effort to create as much normalcy as possible, I am going to get out my spring decorations and freshen up the decor.  Even though we won’t be having a big gathering, or even a small one, I’m going to leave the spring table up and add some rabbits to it.  Then I think I’ll do another fresh and bright color table for the pub table where we eat most of our meals.  Shopping the house, I’ll use what I have in a new way.

Springtime Tablescape at

With at least six weeks at home on the horizon, I’ll choose six projects to be done, one a week.  These will be the harder or time consuming things that I tend to put off, and will work around my sewing, crafting and cooking time.  Here is my list –

  1. Deep clean the kitchen, run the oven cleaning cycle, wash cabinets.  Sharpen all the knives.  Weed out utensils I never use for donation.  Go through the spices and toss everything out of date.
  2. Flip my closet to spring, trying on everything, and compiling at least one bag of things to go to the thrift store when they open again.  You can do this too, see my system on my post What’s In Your Closet?
  3. Tackle the last of my mother’s papers and mementos for sorting, storage, or throwing away.
  4. Clean the windows, including lubricating the tracks for the casement windows and vacuuming out the outside sills where dirt collects.
  5. Clean out all my old magazines, catalogs and other detritus from my sewing shelves, organize what I want to keep, and recycle the rest.  I’ll use the same plan as I did in my Organizing Recipes post.
  6. Finally, go through the photographs and organize them at least into years, topics or places, scanning the precious ones that I want to be sure to keep just in case they deteriorate.

So, that is my big to do list.  One task a week for six weeks.  Each day I’ll spend some time in my sewing and crafting space, and a bit in the kitchen, with some goals there as well.

  1. Finish the quilt repair I have to do by working on it at least 30 minutes a day.  It is a hand repair with a lot of patches to do, so it will take weeks.
  2. Find an embroidery or hand stitching project to begin.
  3. Sew the next four blocks in the Vintage Christmas Quilt Along.  Write those posts and schedule for the fourth Monday in April and May.
  4. Quilt the next Quilt of Valor in the queue.
  5. Add borders to Scrap Dance Twist and write the next steps.  Quilt and bind it when the QOVs are done.
  6. Make my Corona-cation Placemat and write that post.
  7. Begin a quilt for Hands2Help.
  8. Make some cards for friends, spread cheer wherever I can.
  9. Leave lots of comments on the blogs I follow, to keep up the connections and feeling of community.
  10. Plan a virtual lunch each week, and learn how to use a video chat app on the tablet.
  11. Develop a new recipe.
  12. Watch some new videos to learn more about knitting, and watch some more gardening and cooking videos too.

Easter Train ~ From My Carolina Home

Here are some more ideas from my previous posts that may give you some additional ideas.  Just click on the photos to see the posts.  Make a Spring Wreath for your front door.


Set a pretty Easter table, even if it is just for two, or for you alone.  Making our environment pretty and inviting is uplifting to the spirit.  Add fresh flowers if you have a garden.

Easter Decorating at From My Carolina Home

Make a Coronacation Placemat, for yourself, or for our drive for Meals on Wheels.

Whether you are a stamper or not, make some fun cards to send to family and friends this year.  Sentiments printed off the computer and pictures cut from magazines work too.  Happy mail is a treasure right now.

Easter cards 2017 - From My Carolina Home

Tackle that overstuffed closet with my post on Clearing Out.

Clearing out From My Carolina Home

Plan a Virtual Lunch with a friend or relative to stay in touch.

Try a new recipe at home like my Asparagus with Sun Dried Tomatoes on my Spring Celebrations post, which also references how to cook a ham.  See more recipes to try anytime by clicking on the Cooking category on the sidebar.  With 159 posts in the cooking category, there are a lot of ideas on this blog for delicious new things to cook and serve to your family.

Asparagus with Roasted Garlic at

Upcycle a metal item with spray paint, like this project using an old birdcage.

Upcycle Birdcage at

Clean and oil your sewing machine with my tutorial How to Clean Your Sewing Machine and the second one specific to my Pfaff.


That should help keep us busy.  Today, take a few minutes and plan some goals for the next few weeks.  If you need a few more ideas, how about these –

  1. Pull one of your quilting books at random and make one of the projects in it.
  2. Take some time each day to read, perhaps that really long novel you’ve been meaning to start.
  3. Clean off the old files you no longer need from your computer and back up your hard drive.
  4. Call someone you haven’t seen in a while, particularly the older population, just to chat and stay in touch.
  5. Pull out your UFO projects and make a plan for finishing them.  Work on them for a short time each day.  For more great organizing ideas for your hobby room, see my friend Mary’s blog post Planning Ahead.
  6. Learn the bird songs for your local population so you can identify them.
  7. Update your cell phone contact list, delete old numbers no longer needed, be sure all your friends are added.
  8. Enjoy a meal outside on your porch or balcony, or spread a blanket in your back yard for a picnic.
  9. Watch some videos and learn a new craft.
  10. Have your own spa day.  Do a facial mask, and a hair treatment. Paint your toenails bright pink.

March in the Garden at

What are your plans and goals for this stay-at-home time?

Sharing at Best of the Month, Vintage Charm,

38 thoughts on “Staying Busy in Challenging Times

  1. Wow, that is quite the list of ideas!! I know I have spent too many hours reading news and reports etc in the last month. We have been on stay at home for over 2 weeks. It is a depressing feeling not to have those activities you mentioned ! I plan to get outside today and start the process of cleaning the garden up. We are scheduled for 70 degrees and sunshine. Good weather will help. Thanks for the great list. A wonderful pick-me-up.

  2. Elaine May

    Hi, I’m Elaine from Cornwall, England. I wanted to let you know I’ve been planning my weeks in very much the same way as you. It is so easy to feel despondent and get out of routine. Like you I miss my quilting, embroidery friends though we keep in touch on line but so many events are going to be cancelled that we always look forward to for new supplies and inspiration.
    The garden, which is quite large is keeping my husband and I busy but after a few days you want a break to do something different like visiting a garden centre. We have experienced endless rain and wind for so long that it is so good to see the sun and even eat outside again.
    Like you, I really look forward to Easter and all that goes with it, especially the family gathering. I always read your posts and enjoy them, you live in a wonderful part of the world. I hope you and your family and friends stay safe in these frightening months to come and look forward, as do I, to some normality again.
    Best wishes,
    Elaine May

  3. karenfae

    I haven’t made a list because I doubt I would keep it up, I’m taking each day as it comes and try to continue working on projects, work in the yard and stay sane. My main thing is to stop reading the news so much and try to be outside more and continue all my projects – my only daily companion is hubby who is getting on my nerves LOL

  4. stephzw

    Wow! How do you do it all. I’m exhausted from just reading your list. I voted. My point is that with all the quilt alongs, etc once a month is enough. I will however go along. love your blog, even if I can’t keep up. Maybe just don’t want to. Although those are all tasks that mostly have been taken care of here. It is already up to 90 here and hot, so I’m staying in.

  5. Lisa England

    I am all for your suggestion to send cards. When the stay-at-home period first started I decided to mail greeting cards to one or two people each day. It felt good to know that people would get something in their mailbox that might be uplifting. It has prompted several of those who received cards to call and chat, which brightened my day. Win-win! Thanks for your long list of ideas, I will add some of them to my plans.

  6. jesusnowand4

    I have been watching craftsy classes and learning new things! That has been very nice. Like you I cannot keep the news going, I limit it to once a day. We are in the process of moving and I have a ton of work to do and this just gives me more time to get it all done!

  7. Debbie B

    You are going to be busy. But that was the idea right? It helps to write things down, doesn’t it? I need to do that too. Thank you for sharing Hot temps here have me staying inside, even though I would prefer to be outdoors. Love all your spring touches. Very cheery!

  8. kathyinozarks

    I have the same problem staying on focused, and total lack of energy or enthusiasm right now-we are home bodies any ways-in our 70s so aren’t people that go to eat etc. but it is stressful-I totally stopped watching any news media-I only watch the daily updates from the President so I know where we are coming from him and his team.
    I need to do a deep clean of the house too-

  9. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    I’m just taking one day at a time until I get over this severe pain I’m having. Barely got my post for the Quilt Qwazy Queens Blog Hop finished for last Tuesday and while that little quilt really makes me smile, I can’t even stand long enough to hang it. So I’ll be calling my doc today to see if there’s anything else that can be done for me short of just putting me out of my misery! LOL (not really) I can’t even sit for long at a time and I’m so tired of the bed!

  10. Thanks for your ideas and list making. Even though I haven’t done it for this situation, I know from other times that when I feel frazzled and “all over the place”, it helps to have a plan in writing. While I hate cleaning out closets, the mess in there bothers me, so I would rather shut the door and play! But my sensible self is telling my maverick self not to waste this time. So my plan is to clean out one space a day, and then I can have the rest of the time to play in my sewing room and with my cards. We’ve been eating very simply lately, often cooking once to eat twice, so food prep is at a minimum. It’s too cold here to spend much time outside, but we do get a walk in now and then, which helps clear the cobwebs. I was so looking forward to Easter this year, now with foiled plans, but I will get out the wreath for the door and put out some bunnies and lambs and plan our Easter “feast”. I’m thankful we are well so far, and I hope you all are, too. (Sorry this is so long—just wanted to “talk” to other gals!!!)

  11. Your comments are right on! I have made long lists of things to keep in focus. I was expecting a few more weeks, but realize 6 weeks is about right. Most people have no idea and will be in for a shock when they realize. So clear up, clean out, start some new… is all about how we react and handle the change in these circumstances.

  12. Rosemary B

    Thank you for the list, Carole.
    I have been reading, you know that…. just always running.
    Now, it is nice for me, that things have really slowed down. Of course with a price.
    I cannot see my grand babies, but we can have video chat, which is chaotic of course, they are even too little for games….. well, Sarah is almost 5 so she is very fun just on her own, we play with stuffed animals and make them talk.
    I am only visiting daddy one, maybe two days a week and I always plan the visit so that I come directly from my house, and have very clean clothing, etc. Yeah, I even clean my car.
    So inbetween, I have a lot of time, and I am just getting used to this. I am going to go over your lists. These are good ideas. Of course, since 2013 my life has sort of changed (mom and dad) so this house is very clean, but cluttered. I need to just take one spot at a time.
    I know you are always enthusiastic and focused and that helps me. These past 7 years have done funny things to my brains.
    Your photos are always beautiful. Yes, the gardens just do what we planned them to do, it is so nice to have the beauty of Spring.
    My oldest daughter has proclaimed that “summer is cancelled” and she just might be right. We shall see.

  13. Sharon Ray

    I stopped watching the news about 5 days ago and feel much better. I could not concentrate on anything. Now I am back to my regular sewing and gardening. I’m finishing up some UFO’s and starting new projects. I already cleaned out 2 drawers in my sewing cabinet and re-organized my quilt books. There are several that I only want to make one quilt out of so I should try to get to those.

  14. thedarlingdogwood

    Routine has helped me a lot. I’m still working (from home) and have a child, so a routine is both easy and needed for us. I find myself really looking forward to our daily walks and we did two-a-day over the weekend. Small goals in the sewing room have also helped, as does stepping away from the computer at the end of the work day, both for sanity and to stay off social media.

    Sounds like you have some good ideas for goals and structure in what you want to accomplish. Wishing you happy and healthy days!

  15. We are definitely feeling it here. I haven’t begun the clearing of things yet, but that may come. I, too, haven’t felt motivated to change out my winter decor for spring, but it’s on my list. I’m keeping my sewing projects very relaxed and fluid, just doing what appeals to me. That seems to work well for now. I may sneak some quilts to my long arm friend, since we could chat about them online and I can drop them on her doorstep. We shall see.

  16. Sylvia anderson

    Good morning Carole. First of all, I love yesterday’s stroll through your gardens, especially since the only thing coming up in our beds, are some daffodils. We have had so much rain, that it’s difficult just walking on the grass. This week looks a little more promising, and I’m hoping that it dries out enough to get some work done and be outside in the fresh air. I haven’t been able to sew for a couple of weeks because my Janome is sick and the fabric store, where I always take it, is closed, so I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking. Thanks for all your suggestions in today’s post. I think I’m going to clean out the kitchen cabinets containing all the dishware, glassware, etc., which will keep both me and the dishwasher running!

  17. You are amazingly organized, Carole! I’m impressed with your lists, and many of those things could be done around my house, too. It’s definitely hard not to have much to look forward to. I have a tendency to lose myself in a book these days and let other things slide! Maybe I will tackle a few drawers today!

  18. I agree with you about the doldrums caused by news overload. If only there were some news feeds that were dedicated to happy news. Anyway, I had been considering identifying bird calls, particularly this one that I can’t place. SO that is one thing on my list. My library also subscribes to a streaming video service called Kanopy and I have been watching a photography course created the “The Great Courses”. It’s a start.

  19. Heidi

    My suggestion is always to keep up with an hour of your local news. Forget the national news and definitely don’t watch cable news.

    You have some wonderful suggestions for filling time. And a great list of goals for your weeks! I have been locked down for over 2 weeks now and it is odd, but I knew from the beginning it is best to be a realist and not overly-optimistic, and to mentally prepare for 8 weeks.

    We are busy in our house. One child has full cyber school, which he is used to, and the other will be starting cyber school this week, with me as the home-facilitator. So I will be busy with that.

    In the evenings we have been watching shows together as a family and one weekends there were car repairs, games, video calls, etc. I have significantly less time for my hobbies, but will carve out a little time.

  20. Hi Carole!
    Here in Wisconsin, we are starting Week 2 of Stay-At-Home. I feel the same “winter doldrums” and lack of ambition as you do, and like you…I have given up watching the news almost entirely. It is too depressing and events are out of our control anyway. My ultimate goal is to clear out my UFO (or at least whittle it down a bit!) pile. My plan is to alternate sewing and scrapping projects…one week sewing, one week scrapping, then sewing and etc. I was successful last week and completed a scrapbook of a Florida trip that has been in the UFO pile a year! And, looking at it brings back very sweet memories and hopes of trips to come once our lives regain some normalcy again. Sew and scrap on and find the “Happy” in the little things! Susan

  21. Sharon Vrooman

    You have some impressive lists and some good advice. I’ve been cleaning and purging and setting goals. We have already been in ‘distancing’ for almost a month and just updated to another month with travel advisory. I do need to go grocery shopping tomorrow for Senior time – I’m sure the shelves will be empty so menus get creative.

  22. Hi Carole! Being outdoors is the best thing isn’t it? We are trying to spend time outside every day, and this week we will have some nice spring temps too! Your big projects list sets you up nicely to “go to work” each day, and I bet some incredible things also come out of your sewing room! I am trying to task myself each day with a housework project before I begin teaching, so I actually accomplish something! I have decided to go back to my clean one room really well each day this week, and do more blog posts, I hope. You have a great plan! Have a really good week!

  23. Joan Sheppard

    We used to have a Chore Jar. Let’s rename that – “Fun Stuff to Do Now That I Have The Time”. Everything on your list goes on a separate piece of paper, in strips, folded so you can’t see the “chore”. Put in a jar you can get your hand in and out of (ask me how I know that!) Pick one. Add things like mop the floor, play Frisbee, clean the closet, eat ice cream. Even my 5 and 7 year olds don’t argue too much with this as they know there is a Eat Chocolate in there somewhere. Married couples might add their twist to this as well. The weather is even improving in Chicago so I can add lots more activities. Thanks for reaching out. My dog refuses to acknowledge the Stay In part so off we go each day and it’s amazing how many people we see – from a respectful distance.

  24. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post today. I gained plenty of ideas on how to plan this extensive stay at home time can be worked to our advantage. Even though, I have been doing Spring Cleaning slowly for a short time due to medical problems. Your list and ideas are going to be gone over and used together with mine. I have a wonderful feeling that it will make a huge difference in all aspects. Right now, Southern Oregon weather is not cooperating in any way to allow for outside activities. It is raining once again and actually quite chilly. I did not answer your question on the Twist, I answered it on the FB page. I am off to start on one of the days cleaning tasks and then to work on one of my UFO’s. Have a spectacular day!

  25. Mary

    Just move into this ‘down time’ slowly. Enjoy the fact that you have to stay in your own surroundings for a while. No rushing about!! Lovely to be able to enjoy your home and do the things that you have always wanted the time to do.
    I happily mooch from this to that knowing that I haven’t got to be anywhere at a particular time – just relax. Not every moment has to filled with activity.
    Enjoy something that you have been meaning to do but never have enough time to do it. Nobody will check up on what you did with your time.
    This is a time for yourself. You don’t have to share. Stop and thank God for giving you a holiday for yourself. :))

  26. Wonderful post Carole, with lost of great ideas. I am recovering from an operation so heavy work is out for me for the next few weeks. But I have been sewing in a kind of squirrel way, a bit of this and a bit of that, some hand sewing, a walk up the back yard to see what is happening, we are heading into autumn here, the leave share starting to change colour on the few deciduous trees around us. Lockdown started last night, I am fine with that, hubby not so much, he wants more company. I have lots of book’s, a jigsaw on the go and lots of ufo’s…takes time to settle but is all good. My quilting friend in Melbourne and I have two challenges going and we have a video chat every few days, the local Guild and sewing group I belong to have set up private face book pages so we can keep in touch and see what people are doing.

  27. Rita C.

    Those are all great intentions, Carole. We have been on lockdown since March 23, and our antique mall closed after March 21. Mr. P. and I have been socially distant since March 13, so we’re already two weeks into it, other than a total of 3 trips to the grocery.drug stores. I have been spending more time in the kitchen cooking. Thankfully, Mr. P. is almost back to 3 miles in walking since his fall in Jan and surgery 3 wks ago, so walking is something I am grateful to be back to with him. I could still do a few projects (purse collection display), but the reality is likely to be that I’ll just keep up with laundry, cleaning, sanitizing, cooking and perhaps a bit of gardening at my daughter’s. Like you, I’ve quit watching the news, other than trying to keep up with the national daily press conference (dvr’d so I can speed through it) and statistics. I’ve been doing a lot of praying intermittently throughout my days, too. It helps when I feel worried.

  28. cr8tvblessings

    Love your bright sunny tablescape. Your plan sounds good to me. I’m going to dedicate 15 minutes everyday for going through those cabinets, drawers, shelves and closets that are over-stuffed and underused.

    Today I tackled the cabinets above my coffee maker and my inside pantry. It’s amazing how just throwing out bags of opened stale chips and boxes of stale crackers and then organizing everything can make such a difference. I can now see what is on my shelves again. Bonus is that I have a bag of food to take to my local food pantry. 🙂 It really didn’t take that long, but brought me such peace. For some reason only “having” to do 15 minutes makes a big difference. I get more than I think I can accomplished and with the progress made I want to continue.

    Tomorrow I will work on the garage pantry and probable get a 2nd bag that I can drop off. 🙂 My hope is that by the time this quarantine is lifted my home will be clean & organized so I can play without guilt.

    On sunny days I will spend up to an hour outside, playing with puppies, pruning and getting the yard ready for Spring. It was rainy windy and a high of 48 degrees here in SW Washington, so I didn’t get any yard work done beyond filling the pond with water. (God helped with that one)

    Stay healthy and keep sharing. We are all in this together.


  29. Patricia Coomes

    Carole I leave in central Minnesota so I really enjoy your garden and flower pictures because our Spring is a little later. I’m retired and work part time at a coffee shop to get out of the house. I started staying at home March 14th due to an auto-immune disease and my age. I’ve went out twice in the last week and only to drive thru’s. I also have a list. Made hearts and put on my front door today from construction paper and card stock. The idea came from FB page #worldofhearts. So fun to see how others have decorated windows with hearts. Started a new quilt more of a throw for my husband. It’s a very simple pattern. Have a counted cross stitch Christmas stocking I must finish. Going to clean carpet and clean cupboard doors with orange cleaner I bought two years ago. Trying to phone friends and relatives out of state to see how they are doing. Text my son, niece, a friends daughter, my brother and a couple of other friends every day or two just to check in with them and make sure everyone is okay. Something I should do more often. My husband is also retired and has been restoring my antique car for the last couple years so he has the same routine. Try not to watch the news, if I watch anything it’s old shows.
    Thank you Carole for your beautiful blog. We need it in these uncertain times.

  30. Beverly S.

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a long time, and now it’s a necessary part of my morning routine. We’ve been at home for awhile now in Michigan and I look forward to having coffee with you. My plans for this time are similar to yours, but not nearly as ambitious or organized. I’ll be adding a few of your ideas too.

    Thank you for being a bright spot in my day!

  31. manasotavacation

    What a delightful and positive post! I , too, am weaning myself from the news overload…..the virus info is like Hurricane coverage….non-stop…..and was wearing me down. I’ve fallen into a pattern of sleeping too much……so now have set up a schedule to get up, get dressed and get some things done! No shortage of things. Thank you for this bright and cheerful post!!!

  32. Toni Jarvis

    Hi Carole,
    Love your blog and today’s post is spot on! Thanks for all the good ideas.
    I’m down the mountain from you – in Hillsborough. We’ve been self-distancing for about 3 weeks. My husband works from home and is really busy during this time. I have a list similar to yours of chores, projects. and little things. I’ve been watching Bluprint videos, reading a lot, and trying to learn to quilt – foundation paper piecing. We walk in our neighborhood every afternoon. A subdivision nearby is doing “bear hunts” for the children. People put teddy bears in a window, on the porch, or somewhere visible from the street. The children try to find them. My husband and I find ourselves looking for them, too! 🙂
    Stay safe!

  33. Lots of positive plans here Carole! Now is the time to tackle everything you’ve been putting off! I plan to do some purging, cleaning and a lot of art and reading. The important thing is to stay positive and busy!

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