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Let’s face it: the mandatory quarantine put in place by a number of states last year gave us a lot of time on our hands. Even if you were working from home, there was only so much screen-time you could take before your eyes started drooping and your fingers got fidgety.
Being stuck indoors wasn’t ideal, but many people made the most of it — our team of editors included. Here are ten new things we learned from the confines — and comforts — of home. From swapping coffee for Japanese matcha, to taking up a new instrument, there are a ton of easy ways to learn a new hobby or habit online.
1. Tealyra Premium Matcha Kit
My weekly visits to the Insta-worthy matcha shop down the street from work have now been replaced by making my own matcha at home. It’s easier than you think too, with this all-in-one kit.
The Tealyra matcha ceremony set gets you 50g of premium Japanese matcha tea powder, an authentic “chasen” bamboo whisk, a sifter, whisk holder, scoop, and bowl.
Sift a couple teaspoons of the matcha powder into the bowl, add hot water, and whisk until tea is frothy and creamy. Serve up in a mug placed on the included wooden presentation tray for your own gram-worthy matcha moment.
2. Tulip X-Large Block Party Tie Dye Kit
If you have a pile of old tees and sweats that are too ratty to wear in public but not so worn-out that they need to be tossed, consider turning them into a fun tie-dye project. This tie-dye kit gets you six, 16-ounce bottles of colored dye, along with gloves, rubber ties and an instruction book. Dilute the dye with water in a large bowl or bucket and you’re good to go.
We’ve turned our old hoodies into some seriously cool boho-inspired designs with this kit. Bonus: the dyes won’t run or fade even if you toss your “new” clothes into the wash.
3. “We Are Knitters: Knitspiration to Take Anywhere and Everywhere”
Leave it up to two hip Spaniards to make knitting cool again. That was the inspiration behind “We Are Knitters,” a website and community founded by Alberto Bravo and Pepita Marin, two friends from Madrid who bonded over a shared desire to turn the seemingly dated pastime of knitting into an accessible and fashion-forward hobby.
This book is a display-worthy compendium of their “greatest hits,” with favorite patterns for hats, sweaters, blankets, tank tops and accessories, book-ended with original photography from contributors all around the world.
4. Alesis Full-Size Digital Keyboard
After putting it off for longer than I care to admit, I’ve finally started actually learning how to play the keyboard. This Alesis digital keyboard gets you the full 88 keys — just as you would find on a regular piano — only in a portable size, that’s great for table-top learning or used on a stand. (We also found a smaller 54-key digital piano here).
While I’m familiar with chord names and basic structures, it was hard for me to wrap my head around where exactly to place my fingers. So this piano chord book has come in handy too. It contains 480 chords — including abbreviations — and some basic notes about how to play. I’m not going to become Ray Manzarek overnight, but hopefully I’ll be able to nail the intro to Strawberry Fields Forever sooner than later.
5. Artifact Uprising Color Series Photo Book
Posting photos to your Facebook or Instagram feed just doesn’t feel as special anymore, especially after we discovered these personalized photo books from Artifact Uprising. These beautifully-bound softcover books are customizable with your own title, photos and foil lettering, all wrapped in a vellum laminate finish that adds a satin-like texture to the pages. Choose from three sizes and half a dozen earthy colors. Whether you’re commemorating a special occasion, collecting photos from your travels, or curating a new coffee table book, Artifact Uprising’s site is a solid place to start.
6. Made In Cookware Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan
If you’ve taken up cooking during the quarantine, you’re not alone. Stats from the recently released HUNTER Food Study Special Report about consumer cooking and eating habits found that 54% of Americans are cooking and baking more now than they were prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. What’s more: 51% of Americans say they would continue cooking more even when the coronavirus crisis comes to an end.
Our current obsession: this blue carbon frying pan, which handles everything from steaks to stir-frys with ease. Made in France from a thick blue carbon steel, it’s a perfect hybrid of a cast iron skillet and stainless steel pan. At 12-inches in diameter, the professional-grade pan offers up plenty of cooking space for French chefs and amateur foodies alike.
7. Cold Press 365 Juicer
If juicing has been a part of your daily routine (or even if you’re new to it), you’ll want to pick up Omega’s all-new Cold Press 365. It’s one of the easiest juicers we’ve used, with a fast (and surprisingly quiet) mastication process that yields more juice per fruit (or vegetable).
Because it juices without using heat — hence the “cold press” process — you’ll retain more of the enzymes, nutrients and antioxidants in your produce, for maximum nutrition. What we like: the juicer assembles in minutes, stores easily, and is dishwasher-safe for fast and efficient cleanup.
8. Nikon D3500 DSLR Camera
If you want to get into photography, your best bet is still the Nikon D3500, which delivers a ton of value for its under-$500 price-point. What you get: a 24.2MP sensor, ISO range between 100-25600 to suit a variety of lighting conditions, and a solid 5fps continuous shooting speed. Using this time to work on your short film, or uploading something to YouTube? The D3500 shoots full HD 1080p video at 60 fps. Bluetooth connectivity lets you easily transfer files to your phone or device.
Nikon is currently offering free tutorials online through their “Creator’s Hour” site, which features free Nikon School Online classes, live chats with Nikon Ambassadors, photo and video challenges and more. See the latest at NikonEvents.com.
9. The Cocktail Box Co. Premium Cocktail Kit
Sure you can stock up on great wine online, but there’s something nice about mixing up your own drinks too. This is the perfect time to play at-home bartender, and the best place to start is with one of these mini kits from The Cocktail Box Co.
This kit gets you (almost) everything you need to make a classic Old Fashioned. The Cocktail Box Co provides the tools, ingredients and even a hand-knit cocktail napkin; you only need to provide the booze (we like Wolf Moon Bourbon, a new Straight American bourbon whiskey from country artists Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line).
10. Udacity Online Learning
You may not be feeling super motivated, but one of the best things you can be doing for yourself right now is upgrading your skill-set. We like Udacity’s roster of online classes, which are taught by industry heavyweights and offer courses on everything from programming, to analytics, to project management.
Udacity says its “Nanodegree programs” are constantly revised to ensure that the material is relevant and providing job-ready skills. Other high-demand topics include artificial intelligence/machine learning, digital marketing, software development and cloud computing. And earlier this month, Udacity launched its first Nanodegree program in product management with instructors that include top leaders at Google and Uber.
The site is currently offering a one-month free trial. Find out more at Udacity.com.