Just a little note: product/service links in this post are not paid. They’re simply things I use and love.

As we, as a country, begin to normalize (fingers crossed and holding breath), I’ve thought about many of the things we’ve had to endure, encounter, adjust to and conquer during these times of Covid-19. For many, it was a total life-changer. Working from home and having to stay in was something most have never had to do. For us though, it really wasn’t much of an adjustment. I already work from home in my studio on a daily basis and when the day came that schools closed and Christina began working from home too, well… I just gained two co-workers. That’s all.

During this time I’d seen and read dozens of articles about people learning new skills, like playing the guitar, knitting, gardening, crafting, learning a new language, breaking bad habits and even diving into that never-ending “honey do” list. That was the direction I headed and I was able to get a few things checked off my list:
Dining room painted and spruced up. CHECK (long overdue).
Basement cleaned. CHECK (Way, way overdue). Side note on the basement. We even created what I refer to as “the bunker.” A pantry space to store our Covid supplies and “the apartment” which was a separate corner neatly organized with all those not-so-often-used small appliances we all gather. It kind of looks like a kitchenette, HA! Now I will admit, when Christina started to stock up with supplies, I though it was kind of silly. But… it wasn’t silly at all. I totally bought into stocking it up. She even created a spreadsheet to track things 😉 upstairs, downstairs and in the freezers.
All laundry washed. CHECK. We all have that nagging collection of stuff that we say “oh, I’ll wash that later when I have more.” Well, later came, and the pile is now gone. This was all Christina’s doing but hey, I’m checking it off the list! It made her very happy.
Power wash the back yard fence. CHECK. (This too was overdue). This was Christina’s first crack at power washing… I think she had fun at first, but then realized that it really does suck by the end. 🙂
Build planter boxes. CHECK. This was a shop project I had already planned for the winter, but the lockdown fast-tracked it. I wanted to build these for our summer home (a.k.a. the front porch) to add some color. We spend pretty much every available minute out there when the weather is nice so why not make it even better. The timing was perfect. I even cautiously ventured out in full Covid gear to get flowers… and up they went.

You know we all heard about the bad things associated with Covid, but, as I’ve been saying there are plenty of good things too. We, the 3 Guys, stayed in touch virtually of course, just like so many others. Funny thing, we were poking fun at some of the idiotic theories about how you can catch the Covid in this YouTube video and two days after I posted it we were in lockdown. I don’t think any of us ever thought that would happen. Oh well!

Jamie had an idea that we should host Facebook Live Saturday evening get-togethers, so… we tried it. We talked about all kinds of things. Beer. Pizza. Chicken wings. Covid hair. Covid lockdown projects… it was a lot of fun. We made some new virtual friends, had a few guests appear with us, heck we even had a commenter from Brazil on one of our events. How cool is that? We also kept up with our activity on Facebook and Instagram along with our #inthefridgefriday video posts. So we were around, just not together.

So, I’ve always loved to cook. But during the lockdown, I’ve learned that I really love to cook. Christina and I have been cooking and trying all kinds of things. During the week we’d do the “support local” thing and order takeout one night, maybe two, but for the most part, we’ve been cooking in and out, now that the weather has gotten nicer and I can fire up the Char-Griller Akorn Grill.

Now, all of us who cook know that the list of things we cook can be short and repetitive. So we decided that we would spice up that list with meals from the subscription service Hello Fresh to see what it was like. Oh man is it ever tasty. So many great choices. But maybe the best part about Hello Fresh is that there are no leftovers, because I can’t stand leftovers. Plus, with no leftovers, there’s more room for beer in the fridge. So the dishes you’ll be seeing are a mix of my own creations and Hello Fresh dishes. Either way… I love to cook. I also found that I love to pair beers with our dinners. Some are misses but some really hit the mark. But hey… isn’t any beer with dinner a good beer?

So in no particular order… bring on the food and the beer. Oh I should mention, not all meals included a beer. I know, I know… but sometimes, I just wanted to enjoy the food by itself. Don’t judge! HA!

Hey now… how’d Spaghetti O’s get in there? Truth be told… I love ’em. This is a lunch I made one Saturday for myself. I love adding some ground black pepper and sriracha to them. You know, to make ’em fancy :-).

I could show more, but you get the idea. There are dishes I made that I could probably make with my eyes closed, but then there were so many that I’ve never made before. Those ones are fun. Cooking is a great outlet for creativity. Not all meals are successes, but that’s okay. Cooking is an adventure that you can eat! Just like craft beer is an adventure you can drink!

The point is, if you’re one of those “I don’t know how to cook” people, my suggestion to you is sign to up for a subscription service like Hello Fresh if you can. All the meals we made came with a recipe card that you can keep and replicate the meal again later if you love it. If you don’t subscribe to a service, go to the library and get cookbooks. Or here’s an idea… wing it! I love doing that. Don’t be afraid it won’t taste good or turn out. Cooking is half the fun. Eating is the other half. Do it!

I loved this adventure so much that I’ve decided that I will continue my dinner and beer pairings posts. If you want to come on the journey with me, please do, I’d love to have you. Follow, like, subscribe, whatever the case may be, let’s do this, together. It’s funny, before we eat, Christina is always like “hold on, Joe’s gotta take photos.”

With the weather turning for the better, work now goes outside. What’s the project for the summer you ask? Oh it’s a big one. I’m putting in a perennial garden with a dining space. We’ve always wanted to host an outdoor dinner party under the lights in a cool garden, but we’ve not had that space. Well friends… that’s about to change.

Here’s the beginnings of it. Notice the sparkly white, power washed fence. This is where the dinning space will go. Complete with a chandelier hanging from the tree over the table. The garden will be to the left. Right now it’s just grass. I’ll post regular updates. It’ll be a lot of work. There will be many beers consumed along the way too. But, like cooking, I love flowers, plants and gardening, so it’ll be fun.

I’m ending with this. Being locked down wasn’t the worst thing. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, we’ve lost a few. But, what I’ve learned through all of this is that I love doing things like cooking, building things, decorating, cleaning, and on, and on. I knew I did, I think I just took those things for granted. I also learned that I really love the people in my life. Again, I knew I did, but with either being separated from them, like my parents, my sister, my daughters, grandchildren I call the littles, or being together in the case of Christina and my step-son “G”, I’ve learned that I really love these people a lot, not to mention Jamie and T.J.

CHEERS ~ joe.


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