Tree rats aka squirrels

Have you tried to grow a garden with squirrels in town? Let me paint you a picture of me in the heat of those little rodents..

Photo by Christine Haines

I go out many mornings early to water and check my front garden. It is my way of maintaining peace and tranquility in my world. And take a deep breath and release the bad energy.

Normally going out chatting with the crows or other birds/animals, sitting quietly with nature.

For those that don’t know about squirrels they are usually gray or black, an adult can weigh 400 – 600 g, or 14.1 to 21.1 ounces, and are 23 – 30 cm, 9.0 to 11.8 inches, head and body. Being rodents their teeth constantly grow. When they are not destroying my garden I think they are beautiful.

I get out there, start to look at my plants and what do I see, my little avocado plant I have grown for over 2 years nonked to a stump this sad little stick with the other part of the plant laying limp and wilted nearby! Devastation and anger fill me, knowing who the culprit is. I see if there’s any way I can fix my plant, knowing in my heart it is a goner. 

This is not my only time going to my garden to see destruction. I have seen them eat the head off my roses. I have seen them pick off my baby squash and eat them, dig out my seedlings and dig out new plants. The kicker was when I went out and caught one in the act! I look on the ground and there is my first hot pepper of the year with bites out of it and just laying there, with the little fuzz tail running off.  Spitefuly I thought serves you right!

This is where my lovely pink roses were.

Sometimes I go out and see them digging and I wave my arms like a crazy person, telling them in a loud voice get out, go I will kick your little squirrel butt! I swear they go and laugh, we get up earlier than you.

I’m sure they think they are good gardeners. But I feel that they should take up other work.

 One thing I do is put small clay pots upside down around my seedlings. They are a bit too heavy for them to flip over and it deters them being able to dig out my plants.

This is my tomatoes seedling, they dug them out because I forgot the clay pots.

Have you had anything do destruction in your garden? Would love to read about your woes. Hope you have a calm week free of pests.

Teas for health

Are you someone that enjoys tea, did you know that many teas have many health benefits?  I have used teas to aid many things that ails us from allergies to upset gut for years

Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels

Teas for high fluids or edema can be difficult to manage. Edema is swelling that is caused by fluid trapped in your body’s tissues. Causes include diseases, medications and allergies being on your feet to long. Treatment involves lifestyle changes, including diet exercise and massage.

There is a combination of reasons. If it occurs occasionally then you can take tea to help reduce it. If you have swollen feet, hands or other parts, you might need to see your doctor. Make sure your kidneys and other body functions are working well. 

If you have any health conditions especially kidney, heart or known or suspected allergies to any of the natural ingredients in the teas, please seek guidance from your health provider. With kidney and heart concerns you might need to reduce your fluid intake, you may also not be able to have quick acting diuretics. Many don’t consider teas or herbs as medicine. They may have contraindications for medications you are taking. 

The best water temperature for the herbal teas is below boiling. 80 to 93 celsius or 176 to 199.4 fahrenheit put the water in and let the tea gently submerge. I use a metal fine mesh tea cup and let the tea sit for 5 to 10 mins then sit back and enjoy. You will feel most tea effects between 20 mins and an hour. 8 oz 2 to 3 times a day can benefit your condition. 

If you have to be on reduced fluids and your doctor is ok with you having the tea you can have 5 oz up to three times a day.

If any tea or herb ever makes you feel not well in any way, please listen to your body, the teas are to aid you in feeling better and reducing the undesired effects going on in your body. They are never there to make you feel worse.

Being mindful when you have tea is a good idea, if it will make you need to pee, you might want to have your last cup by 3 or 4 pm if you sleep at 10. If there are diuretics they take time to get the fluid out. The last thing most of us want is to forgo a good nights sleep before bed. I have teas that help me sleep about a hour before bed, if that keeps you up or you are waking to pee because of your tea do it earlier.

I use many of my freshly picked plants and herbs for my teas. If you do that you might want to smash them a bit with a muling stick or meat tenderizer. It is called bruising herbs. You can crumple them up in your hands too. 

My dried teas and different infusers. the unmarked one is fenugreek. I use the lemon balm just less then a teaspoon, a pinch of the thyme, rosemary and fenugreek in my allergy tea blend. Fenugreek is very stong a very small pinch goes a long way.

Tips for harvesting, preserving and using herbs for tea. https://gardentherapy.ca/harvest-and-prepare-herbal-tea/

Dandelion – helps to detox the liver and is a diuretic, it is high in vitamin C and it is very good in bringing down high fluids.

Mint – diuretic, antispasmodic (will help muscles that are spasming to calm down, if your gut is not feeling well due to tensions).

Parsley- can help with urinary tract infections.

Nettles – Help detox the liver.

Insomnia – when you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep.

Promote sleep – a quiet, calm, clean, and right temperature after a night cup of herb tea be good practices for a better sleep. Avoiding coffee, chocolate, black and green tea 5 hours before heading bed.

Chamomile – reducing pain and inflammation, calming the mind.

Lemon Balm

Lavender – be mindful if you or anyone in your home has low blood pressure. Lavender can lower your blood pressure.

Passion flower – blood pressure lowering, sedative and antispasmodic action. Side effects have been rarely reported for passion flower but may include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, rapid heartbeat, and mental slowing. When taking passion flower, make sure you don’t drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how it affects you.

Digestion Runs from our mouths to our anus, we start with chewing or consuming and end with waste products at the other end. When something gets upset it can make use feel bloated and yucky.

Licorice – can help soothe the gut lining when taken before food. When having a problem with my gut I tend to drink this very strong.

Fennel – can help with flatulence and other gas, helps with bringing milk in for breastfeeding. I use about a teaspoon or 5ml of the dried seeds.

Mint and Ginger – can have mixed effects when you have acid reflux and can be soothing when you have nausea. 

Allergies of the non anaphylactic. Can cause runny eyes, stuffy nose, scratchy nose ears, and throat as well as swelling and in the extremities Some also get digestive problems. 

Rosemary– this is very good to have if you need to study, do a test or concentrate. It is not a good tea to have if you are dealing with high blood pressure. I would avoid this if you are pregnant.

Fenugreek

Thymehttps://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-thymus-vulgaris-88803

Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Cold and flu virus

Lemon ginger tea with honey.

Pine needle – decongestant (if your head, chest and nose are stuffy, this will help to break down the congestion mucus), expectorant (means it brings out mucus).

Elderberry 

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels herbs top to bottom chamomile, lavender, mint.

There is many teas I have used that have not been listed, I could write a book on the benefits of tea. At a later time I might do teas and herbs for when you are pregnant. I hope you can grab a nice cup of tea, many are lovely to drink cold in the heat of summer. Would love to see what teas you enjoy and how they have given you peace of mind and body.

Weather hotter than Humans

This June our climate had risen beyond the normal human body temperature, which is 37.6 degrees Celsius or 98.6 Fahrenheit. We had a couple days of 42 to 44 degrees Celsius, 107.6 to 111.2 Fahrenheit . Our weather has never been this hot, a few degrees really can affect us.

Photo by samer daboul from Pexels

Heat can be deadly to animals especially the fur bearing and humans.

Mild or low-grade fever: 100.4–102.2°F (38–39°C)

Moderate grade fever: 102.2–104.0°F (39°C–40°C)

High-grade fever: 104.1–106.0°F (40°C–41.1°C)

Things that can happen where body temperatures rise.

You can have an array of symptoms

  • heavy sweating
  • cold, clammy skin
  • nausea or vomiting
  • tiredness or weakness
  • a headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness or cramping

Humans were not on the menu. Some people I know have air conditioning units, in our area the power use was the highest it has been in years. In fact so much power was used there were spot outages! About 700 or more homes were without power. Sadly so many pets including hundreds of rescue animals ended up in vet offices or died from this intense heat. Learning symptoms of overheated pet

Our neighboring country, The United States of America in Washington state shared this crazy ‘Heat Dome’ . Neither area is used to this kind of weather. Texas, India and the Australian outback get this hot. How do people live like that? If this kind of heat is not your thing then you might want to avoid the hottest places in the world.

I felt really off, my wording was “I feel like garbage”. I woke up dizzy with my heart palpitating, muscle and joint pain. I had no energy or desire to eat or do much. I think I gamed on my computer a bit. Ended up taking 2 days off work. Today I felt more human. Not like a weakened flame thrower. At the end of night two with almost no break from the blast furnace outside that was transferring into our home. Our home is not equipped with air conditioning. Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

You can eat light meals throughout the day. Keep hydrated with low or no sugar drinks, eating ice, making smoothies with frozen fruits or just enjoy eating the fruits. Meals for the hot weather.

Frozen pineapple and orange juice in the blender
  • You might wonder how we delayed spontaneous combustion. 
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc./Patrick O’Neill Riley

We have 4 fans in 1.336 sq feet Frozen bags of ice in front of 2 of the fans. Cold wet towels on our necks, ice water and iced herbal tea. We kept the bath filled with cold water and would plunge in when needed. Misted the dog with cool water every few hours. And small ice packs under him at bedtime. We picked him up and put him in the van pre-cooled with air conditioning when taking him for his walks. Took him on the grass to do his bathrooming.

Did not find who took this. If you know please let me know I will add them.

Please know the pavement/asphalt is very hot. Go out and touch the surface that you or your pet will be on. If it is too hot to put your hand on for 5 to 10 seconds it is way too hot for bare skin or pets feet.

It even was bordering on overhot for our scaly family member, his ideal daytime temperature is between 75-85°F (24-29°C). Basking spot kept at 88-100°F (31-38°C). At night, keep around 70-75°F (21-24°C).

Keeping the scaly cool!

Please do everything to stay cool. Have you had any extreme heat waves. I have read about friends that had farms, they made frozen treats for the pets. Would love to read your creative ways to stay cool!

Packing Books

The last while I have been going through books and deciding what to keep and what to donate. Since some don’t know me, telling you I have books does not tell you the extent of my collection. Let me give you a mental idea of the size of my library. We own 3, 7’ by 3’ (35 inches)  wide bookshelves. We also have several other smaller bookshelves around the house. All of these shelves are full. I would say hundreds fit on one shelf. Tips for sorting packing books

One of our shelves some already off and packed

I always said if the bookshelves don’t fit, I’m not moving there.

That is a lot of books, moving that many books can be a pain. I strongly recommend sturdy boxes. This is the size I have used 12-5/8″ x 16-3/8″ x 12-5/8″. The amount of books that fit in this size makes it very heavy. Fill any gaps with crumpled up paper.  

Some of the photo logs

The best way to know what books are where is to do a photo log of the books packed in the box. Because We have 3 shelves and a number of small shelves I put the shelf number and the book unit number, this will help to make sure when I put them back they go on the right shelves. 

Marked boxes

I also put tape over the holes the shelf pegs go into when I look at the back much easier.  I wrote the shelf number and the unit number on painter’s tape. Then all the hardware I put in a ziplock bag and tape it to the unit before wrapping the unit to move.

Lifting boxes or anything heavy, with your knees hip width apart, bent, put your bottom back without your knees way forward and lift with your legs. and back straight. Hold the box into your body to help reduce the strain on the body and back. I’m not sure how much all the books weighed but wow what a workout! 

A couple years back when we had a flood. that is the three shelves and our books

What books do you love, have you had to pack before? How did you decide what books to give away?

Crap Deal

My home has had more than our fair share of toilet problems. Yesterday before I went to work yet again another problem. We are ‘blessed’ with two toilets. This wonderful blessing means twice the chance for crap to go wrong. A few years ago we had a major flood from a toilet we had just installed. Thankfully it was clean water from an overflow of the tank I’m so glad we had insurance, that took 3 months to get the project finished.

 Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Someone in my home was taking an extended time in the bathroom upstairs. I called up to inquire if they were ok. Thinking in two tones, “Are you ok?” “Did something reach through the plumbing and grab you?” 

Gratefully they quickly responded, then came to the top of the stairs. They had a worried sour look I knew all too well.. That look that said something was going wrong with the toilet. I get the run down and decided “forget this, I’m going to work.”

I put a bag of baking soda and vinegar on the stairs with instructions to add some of both to the bowl of the very full toilet and leave it.

Hours later after returning home from work, I went upstairs and the ceramic lid was sitting in the hallway, I started to ask about it, then remembered the toilet not draining.. Easy to forget unpleasant things when we are not right there.

My brain again goes into the oh crap place. So I grab the plunger and push the flush button. Water rapidly starts filling the bowl. My internal panic went up. I stayed outwardly calm. Started plunging, realizing the plunger was not working well. Called down to my family with the dread of poo water spilling out. I inform them we might need a drain snake/drain auger Grumbling to myself and asking why with all the plumbing problems my world had seen why I did not already own one. Tips on using a toilet plunger.

Photo by Matilda Wormwood from Pexels

The other plunger was brought up and with an audience and a few more mins I flushed again and started plunging. The family being worried that things would go wrong and started side seat instructing me.. Like a back seat driver but worse, you can still end up in crap if things go sideways. Now I have dealt with more toilet problems  in my life including pulling out a toilet and replacing it, I could be on the way to a trade in being a plumber. So I certainly did not need someone giving me nervous instructions.

Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

So in the end all went down without any more problems. We again have two working toilets. 

When you are having a crappy day remember you are likely not having a poo water flood. If you have had anything break down in your house or any other challenges that have left you in a mess, I would love you to share. Have a good week!

Walks out with nature

This week I’m having a hard time getting the get up for a topic or writing.

So how about we talk about parks and nature walks. We are blessed with many parks and water bodies walking and driving distance from our home. 

I love the call of the ocean. Last week I took my first walk in a year or more on the beach. The smell of the ocean can help to clear your head and your sinuses. There were many people out so in the busy areas we had our masks on. There were some wild roses just off of the trail, the smell of them was so lovely.

We talked about what it would be like to own beachfront property. As much as I love the beach We thought it would not be nice having to always have people around, not often would you have privacy. You would need to put up with people parking near or in your parking spot. 

There was one home that had a little metal pink painted bench in front of where they would park. I thought it was quite creative. Thinking and smiling to myself “A place to park little butts!”

I sadly did not get a photo of the cute bench. 

I so needed that beach walk with having to be away from many of the places I love this pandemic. I went to a few trails and parks throughout the time. The park near my house has trails and bridges. It can be a short walk to an hour. If you go one way there is a duck pond, I love to see the ducks. The other way goes to an overpass. There is a beautiful creek that runs through much of the place. It is not the kind of area you want to be during the wet seasons. It is a floodplain.

About 30 minutes away you can see so much large wildlife.  We have many black bears, coyotes, deer and wild cats. I have not seen the big cat for many years, close up, I do read about them in the papers.

If you are planning to enjoy time outdoors. A few things you might want to bring. Water, a rain jacket, sunscreen, and a sweater. Being in a temperate rainforest in the late spring early summer brings a variety of temperatures.

I often put a change of clothing in a sealed bag or in the vehicle. I also pack healthy snacks, dried fruit, seed mix, and protein bars. Sometimes crackers and cheese. If you are in an area with wildlife, be aware, animals may have young. Not much worse than upsetting a large animal with young. 

I hope you have a good week, if you have a chance to get out in nature I would like to hear about the spots you enjoy and what you like about them. 

All the photo take by me.

A Time To Say Goodbye

We have many times in life when we have to say goodbye. Kids leaving home, friends/relationships moving or deciding to move on, pets going over the pet rainbow bridge when they die. Everything that we say goodbye to leaves footprints in our lives.

 

Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

This last while has had some emotional times for my family. This week I had to say goodbye to a fur family member. Our little Chinchilla, we did a ritual of cleaning the place he had hung out for 10 or 11 years, that is when we got him. We think he was older than the dog who is 16, that is an old life for a Chinchilla. Having plans to deal with unexpected pet stuff.

Sometimes when we say goodbye we have a flood of emotions. When I had to say goodbye to our little friend, I felt sad, angry, worried and lost. The vet was kind and gentle, I was so grateful.

Sad and angry, I could not help our little fellow’s foot, so much effort was put into helping him. We had been trying for 4 months to heal the foot infection. Medications, foot soaks and bandaging. Goodbye little guy, you left footprints in our hearts.

Our little buddy Photo taken by me.

The poor fellow started to equate us with pain and discomfort and the people that gave him food pellet ammo. Crazy guy would pick up his food with one paw (hand like), take one bite and toss it, sometimes at us!

We also had a family member move out, it is very different to have just us and 2 pets. Sometimes people go and you don’t get to say good luck!

During the pandemic I had a friend move on, just stopped answering my calls. I had a sad time in my head in the beginning of the lock down in my area, so my guess is that my mind’s state was too heavy for them to hold. I was so sad to disconnect from that friend but people need to do what they need to do that takes care of their heart. 

My partner had to say goodbye to being at the office, this was hard. Loss of connections, loss of the equipment that made the job easier, and coffee made in a pot. All one had to do was walk to it and pour in a cup with sugar and stuff if you wanted, if they were desperate then pour straight from the pot into the mouth! That was the Monday after a long weekend!

The  indigenous people all over have lost family and not been able to say goodbye. In Canada we had a number of unmarked graves of 215 children found, sadly the families were not notified. This made me so sad. Many nations have felt the pain and loss of many elements of their background, religions and cultures.

Many of the goodbyes were not planned so no proper goodbyes could be exchanged. Dealing with unplanned goodbyes leave holes, if it was that Monday after the long weekend the coffee would fall out of the holes. This means we need ways to mend.

Being human has a lots of room to grow, heal and move forward. How do you say goodbye?

Seasonal Produce

Being someone that loves gardening and preserving food. I love to see what I can use in season. Many areas have local farms that you can buy from. Before the pandemic we had farmers markets. You could buy so many wonderful things, fresh breads, hand crafts and local produce. With our area moving to open up now over a year it will be wonderful to see the markets again

I started this year with a bunch of fresh asparagus from the local store. Had it steamed with lemon and butter.

My garden has given me rhubarb this May (I plan to make chutney with it). I have a currant bush loaded with berries and strawberries growing on the plants, the blueberries and grapes have flowers. Our plot in the community garden has pac choi, onions, lettuce and peas. We planted green beans but some non human ate them!

Photo by Kulbir from Pexels

In the months to come there will be fruit like plums, apples and peaches growing on my family trees.  I look forward to a bigger yard one day. 

Most months bring seasonal things I enjoy, because we are in a four season region we don’t get so much in our colder months from November to February without a greenhouse or cold frames. This is what grows in my part of the world. Early spring is from about late March to mid June. I like pac choi, asparagus, rhubarb, leaf lettuce, green onions and snap peas. Then summer is July to September and we start getting some wonderful fresh foods. cucumbers, zucchini, cherries, plums, and apricots. September to the end of the season, sometimes runs till late October. I like squashes  like spaghetti, pumpkin, and acorn as well as potatoes, onions, carrots, brussels sprouts and turnips. When winter hits I grow sprouts and sometimes start tomatoes and cucumbers in the house garden. I bring many of my herbs in to be about to eat fresh in the colder times.

With all I grow I still buy cases of things like tomatoes, hot peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries. I make spicy canned salsa. Last year I made spicy pickles and beans (we grew all the beans we canned). You can grow so many things in an 8’ by 8’ plot. I will need to see what I buy to use this year. Last September I went to my family’s home and was gifted with bags of apples. I brought over grapes and we canned them.

Taken by a family member of food we harvested late winter

As a teen my friends and I would go to old lots that had fruit growing and pick fresh food so it did not go to waste, late from late May to mid October we would be able to get berries, apples, pears, plums, We have wild salmonberries , huckleberries, blueberries, strawberries and my favorite blackberries, the wild ones have sharp thorns. I bring clippers as gloves as an adult but as a kid I would be covered in scratches from gathering them. I ate so much fruit and fresh foods growing up.

You can start buying local fruits from the fields. Despite growing my own fruits, I buy cases from the local farmers. Supporting local farmers is so key to building a good neighborhood

Taken by me, this is my pac choi mid May

If you are looking to find local farmers markets or growers you can look online, type in farmers markets or if you know the type of produse you want you can type in the name of the food and farms near me. Not every area has this kind of thing or the internet to find them. There are many experiences all over the world.

What do you enjoy eating and buying fresh from your area? Have you been to outdoor markets or gone to the felids to pick your own food? Would love to read some of your ideas for preparing seasonal produce.

Ins and outs of mask and pandemic safety.

I work in the public, I see and hear a lot. People upset about many aspects of masks, having to wear them, people that are not wearing them. People are getting upset about other people’s hygiene practices, not using hand sanitizer or throwing masks on the ground. We will find a way through the murky waters of this pandemic. If you’re like me you will be at the point of thinking it has no end.

 Photo by Nandhu Kumar from Pexels

If someone is out without a mask remember some people have medical exemption. Yes fear is a very real reason as well as hidden things you may not know. Every area has their on rules on who is except and how you get your exception. So please keep your distance and use compassion. Most people are not trying to be a problem. Being kind to others is a good way to live life. 

Photo by Jennifer Murray from Pexels

I need to wear a mask for my work. Steps to putting on your mask, use fresh washed or sanitized hands when you can, use the straps to touch it to put it on. Please if your hands are not clean don’t touch the mask part, not even to adjust the nosepiece. With hand sanitizer you need to wet your hands and rub then for 20 to 30 seconds let them dry. You could also wash with soap and water for 40 to 60 seconds. Hand sanitizer can be very toxic to babies and toddlers and pets. They have non toxic hand sanitizers Take time to wash your hands when you come into your home or business.

Photo by Burst from Pexels

If you are at any place like a hospital or doctor’s office and they ask you to put on a new mask, ask if you can wash your hands before touching your mask. One thing that upsets me is when you’re asked to change your masks in a busy place. They are trying to keep people from spreading germs but then they say remove your mask that is keeping most of your droplets in.

Masks with vents don’t keep as much of the person’s breath in. This is why airplanes and many medical places need you to change to masks they provide. They have better nose pieces and provide a snugger fit.

If you use a cloth mask, it is a good idea to wash them after sneezing or coughing. I wear mine for about 3 to 4 hours then put it in the wash. Keeping a spare clean mask in a clean cloth or plastic bag is a good plan. If you wear disposable masks, fold them on the part on the inside then toss them in a bin not on the ground. Wash your hands if you need to touch your mask even if you touch it by accident. One thing I see is people spiting in public. This has always seemed like an unhealthy thing to do.

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata from Pexels

If you are looking for new masks or if you’re interested to see different types of masks out there. There are many recommendations out there. I found out very recently, the type of mask I wear is not a recommended option. We are all learning and relearning.

If you are out, try to maintain distance between yourself and others outside your bubble.

We don’t always use our mask when we go on walks around the block. When I go to the community garden I often grab my mask. Some places it is mandated to not leave your home without a mask. I was reading that in India that people are expected to wear a mask even when driving alone

Do your best to keep healthy! When your in a safe space away from the strains of the outside pandemic, take time to breath deep. If you have any other tips or ways of coping I look forward to reading your comments, it is great to learn from each other..

What’s On the Menu

So the very fact that we need to eat everyday frustrates me, not that I think we should starve… although it would cost less to feed us. It is really hard to think of something to feed oneself or family 3 times a day, we are so blessed to have this problem. 

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from Pexels

How do you get your ideas to make meals?

We tried a weekly meal plan at the bottom of the grocery list. So we are like “tacos, we need to buy tomatoes, lettuce, tofu, veggie ground, or meat, cheese and the ingredients to make homemade salsa or just grab a jar of salsa”.

We also have been trying to add new meals once a month to expand our menu.

Using old standbys can be a weekday saver, for our home that looks like chickpea stew. (I will type the recipe for my chickpea stew out some day and add it to the post) This is something we have the ingredients for stocked in the pantry and fridge. 

You can also respond to an email from a friend that messaged you instead of their spouse “What do you think we should have for dinner?” You might respond by giving them a new recipe to try that becomes a new house favorite. They are a family that eats chicken so I suggested orange ginger chicken served over rice. You can make this vegetarian with carrots.

Sometimes searching the internet for the ingredients you have can be a neat experience. Please avoid this if your family is already hungry and it is past meal time. It is like a lynch mob… You want to make things lighter, not incite them to grab torches and pitchforks.. Family dinner ideas.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Find cool bloggers or Youtubers that have things that inspire you and make your mouth water. Many have email contents regularly to share their new recipes. Vegan Youtube Gluten free blogs

Take an online cooking class. This can be a great way to learn something new and share ideas with others. 

What about a meal swap, where you team up with a friend and they make dinner for your family and you make food for them. Then you do a no or low contact drop off. Let them know about food allergies and dislikes beforehand.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/southwest-vegetarian-bake/

Every 2 weeks or so we treat ourselves to ordered food. This is a nice thing to plan for. You can do it around how it fits your lifestyle and budget.

I would love to see how you make your meals and share a recipe that makes your mouth sing.