Smart Solutions: Readers check in about life at home

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Hearing from Homestyle readers is a real treat, especially during these trying times. I contacted some who reached out to me recently to see how they’re adapting to the new norm.

In her original email, Darlene Guracech mentioned she’s been eating the egg-in-the-hole featured in a previous column since she was a kid. “We called them bread with an egg in the middle,” she says. “Don't forget to butter and grill the piece that you tore out to make the hole! It’s great for dipping in the egg yolk! Good stuff! Definitely comfort food for me, especially during these difficult times.”

Another breakfast favorite combines scrambled eggs with cooked pasta. Guracech says you can start the eggs in a pan and add the pasta or mix them in a bowl first. “Any leftover pasta will do, I've even used the grandsons' leftover mac and cheese!” she says. “To me, it definitely falls into the category of comfort food.” 

All it takes is a futon and some lighting to turn a spare room into a special space.

Guracech lives with her husband in Sterling Heights. They stay connected with their children and grandchildren via occasional outdoor distance visits and War card games via FaceTime. The couple has plenty of yard and house work to keep them busy as they wait for their grandsons to be able to use the outdoor swing set and playroom and have sleepovers again.

For now, they rely on curbside delivery for groceries and online ordering for other purchases. Guracech has been making masks for family and friends including children’s sizes that are harder to find. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that elastic would become a rare commodity!” she says.

In Farmington Hills, Therese Norris has six family members in her household since two returned from school. To break up their online studying and for pure and simple fun, they have a daily activity that everyone has a chance to plan like “name that song, artist and year.” They also use a tablet or laptop for color palette design competitions, Lego challenges and learning a new dance. “It always makes for tons of laughs!” she says.

With gyms closed, they’ve had to find new ways to exercise, says Norris who’s come to enjoy walking and being outdoors. “Our family has discovered hiking,” she says. “The beauty of nature is refreshing and clears the mind.” 

They also cleaned out a computer room that became a junk room as they switched to laptops and tablets. “It was the holding zone for all the stuff that we intended to deal with someday,” says Norris. “The stay-at-home was the time to do just that.”

Now, a futon from her daughter’s dorm room and some large pillows join a lamp and a folding screen they already had. “We realized just how cozy this room had become. Sitting on the futon made us rediscover just how nice the view is from the bay window. It is a peaceful room,” she says. “The simple addition of the futon and lamp made all the difference. It also expanded options for our family to have more room to spread out.”

   Lastly, she says the dining room has become the jigsaw puzzle center. “The stay-at-home has given us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the blessing of family. It has been nice!”

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at