Three months of hobbies

I’m back at work after being off since October, (finally) taking advantage of Automattic’s sabbatical benefit (I’d been eligible since Dec 2019 and was planning on summer 2020, but then COVID happened so I decided to push it off). I went into this with very loose plans– a few “goals” to give direction, but mostly just to relax and see what comes up.

Unfortunately, the first thing to come up was COVID. I got sick maybe the second week, and stayed positive for about 2 weeks. I felt better sooner than that, at least, but obviously didn’t want to go anywhere. So that put a damper on the beginning.

I said I went into this without much of a plan, but a theme did kind of emerge— reconnecting with hobbies. So here’s my sabbatical, by hobby.

Took a sewing class & made a sweatshirt. I know how to sew (enough to make simple clothes), but I usually kind of hate the process. But I always want to enjoy it, and making my own clothes sounds good, right? So I thought I’d try a class to sew with knits (unlike woven fabrics, knits like jersey have stretch), which I’m more likely to wear. The studio had some sergers for use (among other things, a serger can sew and finish stretchy fabric), so I got to learn how to use one, and I really enjoyed the process. Plus the result was something I’d wear any day.

I enjoyed it so much that Mel got me a serger for my birthday, and I made a second hoodie, and have a t-shirt in progress now. I also inventoried my fabric and planned out a few other projects, which I hope to continue with.

I’m terrible at selfies, so no photos for this one 🙁

Made my local cafe in Blender. I started learning how to use Blender in 2020, but fell out of it when we moved to Philly. I picked it up again, thinking I’d follow some more tutorials, but really just got very invested in a isometric rendering of my local cafe. I’d say I modeled almost all of what I wanted to build, but it still needs polishing (and I could probably use some tutorials on lighting, rendering & processing).

Started drawing again, for the first time since high school. I bought a pen/display tablet for digital art. I’m not great- just tracing images, really — but I’m having fun and what I’m making is just for me. Well, me + the little recipe book I’m putting together.

Cooking & baking more. I like project cooking, I do best when I can follow a recipe. I especially enjoy making Korean food. Korean Bapsang is my go-to recipe site– I recommend the spicy pork, or for not-spicy, royal court rice cakes (or japchae, or jjimdak…).

I also decided to do a marathon of cookie baking for Christmas. We were seeing my family & Mel’s for Christmas, so I needed cookies for everyone. Over three days, I made 230 cookies — double chocolate rye & lemon polenta from Pastry Love, peanut butter from Dessert Person (just the cookie, not filled), a soft lemon cookie (from some website I’ve forgotten), and a shortbread I flavored with almond and dipped in chocolate.

I basically didn’t code. I wanted to avoid WP entirely, otherwise I’d get sucked back in. I had a few convenience projects I updated. I thought about contributing to another OS project that I use frequently, but honestly it just didn’t call to me. The logistics of setting up an environment, looking through a new-to-me bug tracker (jira), and figuring out what the patch/PR process was… just not something I wanted to do in my free time (feels like there’s a lesson here 😆 ).

Walk around & explore Philly. I have to say, getting COVID really dashed this plan. I did get out and walk around a bit more, but most of my plans were better suited to >55ºF days. We’re in the middle of shitty weather now, but once it warms up, I’ll pick this back up.

And that’s it! I’m back at work, so now the trick will be making time to do these things more often 🙂

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