More time at home a chance for new hobbies

More time at home a chance for new hobbies

Since the start of the pandemic, the Cantoral family of Burrillville has built a chicken coop and starting raising chicks in their backyard.

With many families spending most or all of their time at home this spring, people across the country have picked up new hobbies or returned to old ones during this difficult time.

Locally, that’s meant everything from trick shots in the driveway for parents with young children to long evenings spent sewing masks. Cooking and yoga have been popular pursuits, as have creative projects that people can display inside their home.

In Scituate, Karen Sciolto said she’s always been interested in artwork but hasn’t always had the time to accomplish all the ideas that come into her head. Now, the retired hospice worker said, she’s been able to take on new projects and art forms at home.

“I have the time to do it, that’s the difference,” she said. “Right now, I can let my imagination run.”

Along with making homemade dolls, quilting and painting ceramic tiles, Sciolto has begun going through old photos and using them to wallpaper some of her rooms. The photos, she said, remind her of family members and give her a new way to decorate her home.

Music has also been a popular option for those looking to pick up a new hobby. In Woonsocket, 7-year-old Lily Gray has been learning to play the ukulele from her dad, Nick. The 1st-grader at Globe Park Elementary School said she can’t see her friends, teacher and cousins but she’s happy she gets to be with her mom and dad.

“I like to play the ukulele because I love hearing the beautiful sound it makes and I love having my dad be my ukulele teacher,” she said.

Emily Boni, a seamstress and fashion designer from Bellingham, Mass., has been able to use her creative pursuits to help. Like many, she started sewing masks when friends in the health care industry began experiencing shortages, but she’s also taken on other projects to show her appreciation for those on the frontlines. Earlier this month, she invited friends to tag essential workers they knew on Facebook, then sewed homemade wallets to send to them as gifts.

“I was hearing all these stories about what nurses are going through, and I just wanted to brighten their day a little,” she said.

Boni works for Amerisewn in Cranston as a patternmaker and prototype stitcher and has continued to report to work every day to help the company’s efforts making masks for health care workers. At home, she estimates she’s made close to 130 masks and sent them to friends and family.

For many, the social distancing measures have offered the perfect time to take on new projects outside. Ainsley Cantoral and her husband, Mario, have started raising baby chicks and turkeys at their home in Burrillville. Though Mario grew up on a farm, Cantoral said it’s her first time raising the animals.

“He’s trying to get more of them (there is talk of dedicated meat birds), but I’m holding firm at 50, for now,” she said. “(My daughter) Ofelia calls them ‘her stubborn turkeys’ because she picked all the ones who don’t listen.”

Cantoral said her kids have enjoyed helping with the birds and also taken on new projects in ceramics and wood burning. Even her 15-month-old, she said, has started picking up new words like “turkey” and “chick-chick.”

Others have turned to cooking and baking as they eat more of their meals at home. At Juliana’s Italian Bakery in Cumberland, owner Lee Hall said he was flooded with so many requests for yeast and flour they started selling it in one-pound and three-pound bags. The bakery buys it wholesale from their suppliers and divides it up into smaller portions for customers.

“We’ve gone through probably a hundred pounds of yeast already and close to 250 pounds of flour already,” he said. “People, they can’t find it anywhere.”

Hall said he’s not making much of a profit on the yeast and flour sales, but thinks of it as one way to help out his customers. Baking, he said, is a good activity to do with kids at home, since it can teach them math and other skills.

“It’s creating a demand I think that the market didn’t anticipate for baking needs,” he said about the pandemic. “If we’re able to help that, then so be it.”

Lucia Senna, an employee at Juliana’s Italian Bakery in Cumberland, holds up the yeast the business has started selling to help people with their at-home baking projects. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)
Along with making masks, Emily Boni of Bellingham, Mass., has sewed gifts for frontline workers to send in the mail.
Painting ceramic tiles for her countertops is one of several art projects Karen Sciolto of Scituate has taken on during her time at home. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)
Seven-year-old Lily Gray from Woonsocket has been learning to play the ukulele from her dad.
Sisters Ofelia, Eva and Jorgiana Cantoral show off their family’s new hobby, raising chickens and turkeys.