New Hobbies for a Winter Quarantine

Beyond baking sourdough bread, here’s how I’ll be staying sane inside.

photo via pixabay

This March, as more and more of us we’re forced indoors thanks to COVID-19, it seems like more and more people started to adopt pastimes that were already staples of my small city work from home lifestyle. We collectively baked bread, started gardens, took up knitting or crochet, and bought so many mason jars it became difficult for seasoned canners to find them anywhere.

As the winter months set in, and it looks like the 2nd wave will be keeping Canadians and much of the rest of the world indoors, I’ve built myself a nice little set of distractions beyond Netflix.

Handspinning Yarn

While I’ve been crocheting and knitting since I was a kid, I tried creating my own yarn a few times with a drop spindle while I lived in Maui briefly a few years ago and had access to a giant cotton bush (cotton fibre is not something I would recommend trying to learn to spin with, particularly when you’re learning from Youtube on a very cheap spindle, but hey, it was free). I told myself I would eventually test the waters again, at some vague point in the future when I had space for a few sheep, or at least an angora rabbit. While I still live in a rented home in town that unfortunately does not allow pets, I was able to track down a local sheep farmer who sold me some raw fleece at a good price ($20 for an entire sheep’s worth!).

A drop spindle is a cheaper alternative to a spinning wheel for creating your own yarn. Photo via pixabay

Winter is the perfect time to make a few scarves, hats, and mittens, so if you’ve already figured out the basics of how to make them, why not figure out how to create the yarn as well?

Bonus points if you can afford to invest in a $600 spinning wheel (instead of a $25 hand spindle like me), hide inside and maximize your pioneer vibes.

Indoor Garden

Unfortunately, Saskatchewan already has a thick layer of snow upon us, and my beautiful outdoor plants are long gone. Thankfully, while browsing reddit and all the glory of it’s various gardening related sections, I came upon some simple set ups for home hydroponic gardens that I can tinker with year round.

Much like hand spinning yarn, indoor gardening is a hobby that has a pretty large range of financial investment. You can easily drop hundreds if not thousands of dollars on fancy lights and a grow tent, heck, people are running indoor farm businesses from shipping containers. Aerogardens are a nice ready to go straight from the box solution, but they can be pricey. You might just want a few herbs by your kitchen window to spice up your cooking. Start small, scale up if you enjoy it.

I’ve opted for a middle ground solution for now, and converted a simple wire shelving unit to a future paradise of herbs and salad.

My little plant children are a daily source of green goodness in my office
My little plant children are a daily source of green goodness in my office
Seedlings start at the top in potting soil, then move into hydroponic solution once they get a little bigger and slowly migrate down the shelves as they get taller

As you can see, I was already drowning in mason jars pre-pandemic, and while my setup isn’t the prettiest thing out there, I’ve been able to cultivate a nice selection of lettuces, spinach, kale, and a few of my favourite herbs.

Once my plants reach a more mature size, I should be able to harvest enough greens for a daily salad, and see about a $25/month increase on my power bill since I opted for mainly LED lighting.

Cooking without plastic

Even most recipes from “scratch” include a few things that tend to already show up in a package. Pasta for example. With an abundance of time on our hands, it seems like a wonderful opportunity to test out systems to reduce waste in our kitchen.

Take a minute to peak in your fridge and cupboards at all the things that show up pre-packaged, even if they aren’t an instant meal.

Where else is it doable to work 100% from scratch?

This winter, I’d like to expand my culinary comfort zone to include our other staples like corn tortillas, and homemade pasta, while also being more deliberate in reducing non-compostable waste that comes out of my kitchen.

1 part girl boss, 1 part designer, 1 part writer, and 1 part depressed potato.

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