Opinion | Appreciate your hobbies

By Dalia Maeroff, Senior Staff Columnist

I had plenty of hobbies before the pandemic, but 2020 was the year I really collected and appreciated them more than ever. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to a close for those who are vaccinated, it is so important that we continue to treasure all of our hobbies and remember how much they were there for us when we needed something to do other than twiddle our thumbs and count the days until we could leave the house again. Here are my favorite pandemic hobbies:

 

Making jewelry

I’ve always made jewelry, but I learned so many new techniques this year and built skills from Pinterest instructions and Youtube how-tos. I ended up making so much jewelry that I’ve had to sell it or give it away to friends. If there’s anything I absolutely don’t need more of, it’s earrings.

 

Reading

I never bought books before the pandemic. But with limited access to a real library and my eyes suffering greatly from reading online, I started buying books, as well as checking out audiobooks. Between my local used bookstore, which I have loved for years, thriftbooks.com and Barnes and Noble, my pretty book collection has increased significantly. My favorites wereThe Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson and “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens.

 

Collecting and pressing flowers and leaves

I have so many pressed flowers that I don’t even know what to do with them. They’re practically spilling out of every heavy hardcover book I own, which is a lot now because my obsession with leather-bound books is slowly engulfing my bedroom. As of this summer, I plan to frame them in glass as well as develop the new hobby of creating resin jewelry with them.

 

Cooking and baking

My dad cooks. My mother bakes. I used to get home way after dinnertime and I missed eating out due to the pandemic. The cuisine in my house consists of mostly Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes with a bit of Indian thrown in, so after a few months, I was pretty desperate for some variety. By combining the genius of Pinterest, advice from my dad, who actually does know how to cook, and consistent improvising, I have developed a darn good General Tso’s chicken recipe. Baking has also been great, as it’s something my mom and I can do together. Blood orange and honey baklava, various artisan breads and lemon raspberry cupcakes have all been consumed in this house in the last year. 

 

Growing plants

Growing plants has always been my mom’s thing — the woman likes her plants more than me. I’ve had a few succulents, but since we’ve gotten into propagating, I have gotten into having more than just succulents. Synthesis, a store in Shadyside, and the Shadyside Nursery have been my two favorite places to pop in and see if there’s any plant that just absolutely has to come home with me. Being surrounded by plants while doing schoolwork this whole year has been a godsend — it makes my room feel so much less bland and so much more alive. Just some among the ranks of my leafed and spiny friends are orchids, golden barrel cactus, venus flytraps and a whole variety of air plants.

 

Making absurd Spotify playlists

Apparently plants like music. So do I. I love my Spotify. I treasure it. It is a constant work in progress that is added to almost every day as I discover new artists. Some playlists only have a few songs on them, but I will help them grow and nurture them over time, sort of like my plants. New playlist inspiration happens around once a week, and while sometimes they make sense, other times they just reflect how I’m feeling no matter how weird it is. My personal favorites include “grocery store in don delillo’s white noise,” “space cowboy” and the playlist for Wobble, the baby deer living in my backyard who can hear my music when I work with the windows open.

 

Linoleum prints

Not everyone knows what this is. My dad fished out his carving tools from deep in our garage in a mid-pandemic cleaning spree and I decided to give linoleum block printing a try. Linoleum printing is a relief carving in a linoleum block — a sort of hard rubber — which is then rolled over with a sticky block printing ink, then printed onto paper. Carving the blocks is so calming and satisfying and by the end, my whole desk is covered in prints of insects.

 

Photography

I started doing photography as a hobby about 10 years ago, and started doing it professionally 5 years ago. I am also a photojournalist for The Pitt News. When you do something to make money from it, it can sometimes drain the passion out of it for you. The pandemic allowed me to pick up my camera for me again, not just for work, and create a very large portfolio of images of nearly every species of wildlife in the Pittsburgh area. 

 

Playing an instrument VERY badly

I played the violin as a kid. I stopped for a while in high school, but this year I picked it up again and started relearning old songs that I played as a kid and new songs that I’ve always wanted to know how to play. I really suck and tend to wait until I know the neighbors aren’t home for their sake. At least my plants appreciate my bad violin playing. Hopefully. 

 

Dalia Maeroff writes primarily about issues of psychology, education, culture and environmentalism. Write to her at [email protected].

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