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Try a New Hobby on a Budget

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With the past year being as crazy as it has (thanks, COVID), people have been stuck inside their homes more than many ever thought possible. I'm a homebody, and at times, even I am bored! Since it simply isn't safe to gather in large groups, eat out, or do some of the many things we enjoy, we've had to adapt and find ways to entertain ourselves at home.


Last June we realized that cycling had become a hobby for many. Our daughter wanted a bicycle for her birthday, and we couldn't find one anywhere. It took five stores to find one that she would actually be able to ride! It was all due to the pandemic, we were told. People were looking for a distraction.


Not everyone can afford an expensive bicycle, though. If we had not already been planning ahead to spend the money since it was her birthday, we couldn't have made it work. Some of us need hobbies that cost little to nothing. Fortunately, there are quite a few of those. If you're looking for a new hobby to try, maybe one of these will pique your interest.


 

Embroidery:


This is a really fun hobby that can be quite easy to pick up. One of my favorite things about embroidery is that I can enjoy it while still enjoying time with my family. It requires concentration, but not to the point that I can't still talk with those around me. I have long enjoyed "needle and thread" activities such as sewing and especially quilting, but these things can take longer to learn and they definitely cost more to get into.


While you can buy embroidery thread and needles and blank fabric to create your own designs, I prefer the pre-packaged stamped kits. You simply choose a design you like and everything you'll need is in the package. The design is stamped on the fabric so you can follow the lines as you stitch. Each kit includes all the necessary embroidery floss, a needle, and an easy-to-follow stitching and color guide.


The stitching guide will include basic steps to follow to create each stitch, but if you're more of a, "I need to see it in action" kind of person, YouTube has some great videos to show you how to create those stitches step by step. There are also many, many websites dedicated to the hobby, and Pinterest is a great place to look for tips and ideas as well.


I love this * kit, but there are so many to choose from. Here are just a few of the things I've made recently.




Gardening:


Talk about a hobby with so many benefits! Gardening is not only a fun way to spend time, it helps improve our mental and physical health as well. It can also provide us with food. If we get our families involved, it provides us with quality time together. It's also good for the planet because we're providing plants that attract bees and butterflies. What a fun and feel-good way to spend our time!


Even one small garden bed can yield a good amount of produce and you'll enjoy tending to it. Getting started won't cost you a fortune either. All you really need is a pair of gloves, some basic equipment (see my previous post on planning a garden for some great tips), and a good, sunny spot to make the plot.


You can buy garden seeds fairly cheap, or you can buy seedlings for a few dollars apiece at your local home supply store or nursery. Depending on where you live, most retailers will have established plants for sale starting in March or April. Seeds are likely already available. If you're not familiar with gardening in your climate zone, I recommend you research that first to make sure you plant at the correct time. I'll be doing several gardening posts in the near future as well, so be sure to check back!


Here are some great and affordable gardening basics:

  • Garden gloves: you'll want something breathable and thin enough that they don't restrict your hand movement. These * are a good option.

  • Hand pruners: you'll need these for trimming and harvesting. I like these * made by Fiskars and have been using this brand for years.

  • Weeding tool: You can purchase a wide variety of weeding tools or use a hoe. I chose this one * because you don't have to bend over to use it and it is easier on the back.


You may want a few more items depending on how in-depth you choose to get with your new hobby, but these will get you started. We started out with a small garden space and now each year, that space grows more and more. It can be an addicting hobby and I find it to be one of the most rewarding.


If you don't have the space to make a full garden, try growing a few small vegetable plants or just some pretty flowers in pots. You can do this even on small porches or balconies.


Below are just a few examples of the flowers I grew last summer. Tending to them made me happy every single day, and I can't wait till it warms up and I can start the process again. Am I one of those that talks to her plants? You betcha!



Get into DIYs:


Taking one thing and transforming it into something else is tons of fun. I love making useful things out of something I would probably have thrown away otherwise. Not only are you saving cash by making something instead of purchasing it, but you're also saving that item from winding up in a landfill. It's a win-win!


Chances are you may already have some things lying around your home that you could repurpose. If you've got a pile of stuff sitting around that is destined for donation or the garbage, sort through it and see if there's anything you can make use of in a new way. You can also put a new coat of paint on something and give it a nice facelift.


Even if you don't have anything lying around, you can pick up things to repurpose from the thrift store. If you already shop in thrift stores you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't given them a shot, you're missing out! There are thousands of treasures just waiting to be discovered.


A shadow box made from an old clock.
My repurposed clock shadow box.

This is a shadow box I made in memory of our daughter. A decent-sized shadow box at a craft store can easily cost fifty dollars. This is a solid wood body of an old clock. When the clock quit working, I pulled all the mechanical pieces out of it and turned it into a beautiful way to honor our daughter. Everything inside it was hers from the hospital, so it didn't cost me a dime to make. It's also one of my most valued possessions.


Crochet or knitting:


Both of these hobbies require nothing more than some yarn and needles or hooks to get started. There are so many tutorial videos on YouTube to help you on your way. Of course, you can also purchase books to help you learn the basic stitches. Full disclosure- I never could get the hang of knitting, but I picked up crochet quickly and I love it.


I like lightweight aluminum crochet hooks like these, but you can get them in plastic as well. Of course, yarn is available in a nearly endless array of colors and material types. One of my favorites is this Peaches N Cream cotton yarn. It comes in so many different colors and makes gorgeous dishcloths. They're my favorite way to clean! For other projects like blankets, I really love a soft blend yarn like this Caron Simply Soft. It's also available in many colors and it's really easy to work with.


Crochet, like embroidery, requires focus but not so much that you can't carry on a conversation with those around you. Not only can you enjoy a hobby, but you can make things you can use around your home. I've replaced most of our traditional dishcloths with ones I have crocheted, and I love them. They clean so well. You can make thoughtful and meaningful handmade gifts for your friends and family as well.


Photos below: On the left is a blanket I've been working on for a little while. It's small and will make a good baby blanket. This is a simple half double crochet stitch worked in the backstitch to give it some texture. It's one of the easier crochet stitches to pick up on. On the right is the beginnings of a dishcloth. Yes, I am one that usually has multiple projects in progress at any given time.



Writing:


Writing is a wonderful way to relieve some stress. Something as simple as keeping a journal can really help you work through whatever is on your mind. You don't have to share it with anyone else, just enjoy your private space for your thoughts. A mindfulness journal can help by providing you with prompts and ideas to keep you focused. I love the one I've got (pictured below). It's called "Start Where You Are" and it has been inspiring for me. I liked it so much I got one for our teenaged daughter. She loves hers as well.


Journaling not for you? No problem! You can write about anything that makes you happy. For me, that's these blog posts. For you, it might be writing a memoir, a novel, poetry, or a children's book. If it inspires you, you can write about it.


All you need to get started writing is a pen or pencil and some paper. This makes it a great hobby for people who aren't looking to invest a substantial amount of money into their new form of entertainment. You might find that sharing your thoughts, whether to your journal or to the world, is freeing. What are you waiting for?



 

Times are certainly different for us now than they were just over a year ago. We have had to adapt and overcome and find new things to keep us entertained. With finances tight for so many of us, those things can't cost a fortune. Hopefully, you can find as much joy in one of these things as I have.


What hobbies do you have that you can enjoy on a budget? Please tell me about them!


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