Planning a personal staycation

I turned 28 this past week and decided to take time off of work for myself. With the heat wave (and maybe the dread of approaching my third decade of life), I didn’t particularly want to spend too much time away from home. And, now that I’m in my late 20’s, what I find to be the scarcest is time to do absolutely nothing. I didn’t necessarily want to fill my birthday itinerary with things to do and places to travel; I just wanted to relax as close to home as possible. 

But, of course, being the Virgo that I am, I didn’t want to just fritter around. So I decided to treat myself to a staycation, not venturing too far from home but not sitting in bed staring at the wall. (Though, with that said, I did average about three naps a day — I think my body was telling me that it needed rest.)

So how does one make staying close to home fun? Here’s my guide on how to plan the perfect staycation. 

Instax print of peaches
If life’s peachy, I want it to be this kind of peachy.

1. Go to a farmers market. 

My birthday week kicked off with a trip to a special succulent and cacti nursery called Poot’s Nursery! I picked up a few plants but didn’t particularly feel like going overboard with a haul. Where I did go overboard was at the farmers market on the way back! I actually live close to a few farmers market stands in the Valley. In the sweltering hundred degree heat, we stopped by Ramos Country Corner, where I gathered a bounty of corn, peaches, nectarines, and apples. I genuinely, truly, madly, deeply believe that the white peaches I picked up were the tastiest and juiciest peaches I’ve ever had! They were sweet, but not too saccharine or cloying. And they were GINORMOUS. 

Anyway, the farmers market is an awesome staycation excursion because it feels like you’re dressing up and going out, but you’re hopefully not traveling too far from home! And you return with delicious goods. 

Glazed bird with photos in it
Yes, I feel like blasting that schmaltzy Ed Sheeran “Photograph” song looking at these.

2. Go thrifting. 

I swung by a few local thrift stores this past week. To my pleasant surprise, I avoided buying any clothes and hoarding in general. (Self control? Who is she?) I allowed my sentimental side to guide me as I shopped, which led me to this charming glazed duck box for holding mementos. It reminded me of my childhood home in northeast San Jose, where I’d always find gaggles of geese and ducks by ponds and creeks. Right now, it’s sitting on my computer desk and holding my developed Instax photos. 

Why do the plums look like pepperoni slices?

3. Bake a galette.

My dad has an abundance of mariposa plums out in the backyard this summer, so I decided to use them to make a galette! A galette is an awesome staycation dessert because chances are that you already have all the ingredients at home — sugar, flour, overripe fruit, butter. I hadn’t baked in a while, but I wanted to do something special (yet easy) for my staycation. I used Martha Stewart’s plum galette recipe (replacing cornmeal with oatmeal) and cut back on the sugar for the filling. 

The result was absolutely pristine (erm, with some leaky plum juice areas), and I loved the crispy, buttery pie crust! The filling itself was a bit tart — nothing a scoop of vanilla ice cream couldn’t fix, though! I didn’t even have to crank up the main oven; I just used the countertop oven and put it on pizza mode for the last 20 minutes of baking.

Photograph of mussels
The $15 bag of mussels at Costco came with x4 this amount.

4. Cook seafood. 

I wanted to eat something simple for my main staycation meal, so I hosted my birthday party with seafood. Seafood is staycation food — bougie, delicious, yet extremely simple when it comes to preparation. After braving my way through a suburban Costco, I picked up an inordinate amount of lobsters, mussels, and ready-made quinoa salad. If you’re a lazy cook like me, seafood is a crowd pleaser that doesn’t take too long to prepare – I popped the mussels and lobsters into the mini oven! 

Jane Austen wrote this for the overthinking, introverted girlies.

5. Read books. 

Not to be self-effacing, but I’m not the most voracious reader by any means; on my strongest reading streaks, I average around a book every week, week and a half. With the extra time I had, I blazed through five books in a week: Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Liminal Zone by Junji Ito, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim, and Persuasion by Jane Austen. What’s great about having downtime during a staycation is that I can burn time with books I’d otherwise not have the patience to read — this was especially the case for denser reads like Never Let Me Go and Persuasion

Dog on a blanket with glazed bird
It’s Luna’s now.

6. Finger knit a blanket. 

After cross stitching a forest gnome, I’m now decidedly in my crafting era. I think finger knitting a blanket would be a fun winter or autumn staycation activity since you get a cozy usable product out of it — my week off just happened to land in the summer! I got 12 skeins of extra chunky, clearanced off Big Twist ribbon yarn from Jo-Ann and made a charming 3 x 4 foot greige blanket. Here’s the tutorial I used — it’s super easy and you can watch a show while doing it (my series of choice was The Twilight Zone). 

I ended up returning to the craft store to buy more chunky yarn, this time actual blanket yarn from Bernat! It’s virtually always on sale, so I’d recommend getting an actual 97 yard skein instead of winging it with 16.5 yard skeins like me. 

Stardew Valley next to plants
Nothing to do except meet up with Willy at the beach.

7. Play video games. 

One birthday gift I received this year was my baby brother’s old Nintendo Switch! As I’m trying out hobbies for the sake of trying out hobbies, I’ve been picking up on things that I know I won’t be very good at. Video games fall right down this category. I’ve been playing Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing without any expectations for becoming a pro; I’m just just trying to farm, build things, and have a good time. I really do appreciate the fact that video games require my full attention, which helps me take a break from daily responsibilities.

Instax prints next to Evo camera
Like Taylor Swift sang in “Fearless,” capture it , remember it!

8. Capture everything with a camera.

During my second job out of college, I told a colleague that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to have more Polaroid moments in my life. I’m not much of an adventurer, but I have grown to be more appreciative of the little things in life. If the deluge of self-help and spirituality books I’ve recently read have taught me anything, it’s that happiness comes from being appreciative of the present. Anyway, that’s all to say that I’ve been finding more Polaroid moments in my mundane routines. Or I guess Instax moments, in my case.

For my birthday, I got myself the Instax Evo, a hybrid digital and film camera. It’s very reminiscent of an early aughts digital camera, except it has lots of different filters and comes with a built-in printer. I’ve been using it to capture the fleeting, trivial moments in my life — I’m an amateur photographer, but it’s been teaching me a lot about creating point of view through different angles and color compositions! Back to the point: It’s rad to commemorate your staycation with photos. A camera, whether it’s a disposable one or a top-of-the-line digital one, just feels more deliberate than a phone! (I am not dunking the convenience of phones, however.) 

Anyway, that’s how to enjoy a staycation at home, folks! Or well, not too far away from home. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be easing my way back into the daily grind of work while giving myself much-needed TV breaks…

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