While she’s always loved crafting, it was a chance social media post that brought three garbage bags full of tulle into Amber Bahe’s life.

After purchasing it from an acquaintance selling via Facebook and having an unexpected amount of free time with her children’s sports practices on hold during the pandemic, she searched online for project ideas.

“We’re a busy, sports-centered family with three boys, my husband and I, so we’ve had a lot of downtime with this quarantine,” said Bahe. “We’re trying to find stuff to do around the house.”

With Mother’s Day coming up Sunday, Bahe found a relatively straightforward wreath-pattern, ordered the rest of the necessary materials online and set about making gifts for her mother and mother-in-law. Laughing, Bahe added that she hadn’t planned on taking up a new hobby when first scanning the for-sale page, but that it seemed like a good deal. Now, she’s already got ideas for Halloween-themed decorations with the material.

“My mom picked out red, white and blue for hers. My family’s very patriotic, my dad was in the army and they have a lot of red, white and blue. Then I have letters that I’m going to hang from the middle for their last name,” said Bahe. “I saw some Halloween ideas too, so I’m planning to get some black Gerbera daisies and use orange tulle for that one.”

With bars and restaurants closed, events cancelled and children’s sports on hold, many are finding themselves with an increase downtime. For some, like Bahe, the time is an opportunity to go out on a limb and try something new. For others with a little more time at home, it’s been a chance to finally get around to something they’ve long wanted to try.

From crafting to coffee roasting

An avid coffee drinker, Dana Chellin has used this time to finally make his own coffee — ordering beans online and roasting them in a cast iron skillet. While he initially started on the stovetop, he was kicked outside for his second batch because of the smoke, and has since been using a burner on the grill.

“It heats the beans up to 300 to 400 degrees and, like a popcorn kernel, it pops,” he said. “You just constantly stir them. If you’ve made popcorn on the stove, it’s the same process with the beans until they’re done. Usually, one batch takes 30 to 35 minutes.”

Chellin added that it takes half an hour to get the beans up to temperature; the additional time is to make either a light, medium or dark roast. Because he can’t taste the beans as he goes, he relies solely on appearance to tell when a batch is done. With three rounds under his belt, he said he’s been snapping pictures constantly during each process to help inform his roasting going forward.

Typically roasting on Sundays, the beans usually last him and his wife Meagan through almost the entire workweek. Chellin estimated that each skillet produces roughly 20 to 25 cups of coffee.

“I was surprised that it was as easy as it was,” he added. “I like to make candies and fudge in my spare time, so this overall wasn’t that different of a process.”

Gone fishing … with a magnet

While Bahe and Chellin have been finding new ways to spend time in isolation around the house, 8-year-old Raya Sieberg has been waiting since December to try out her newfound outdoor pastime — magnet fishing.

With distance learning providing some families more flexibility as to when schoolwork takes place, Sieberg and her mother are taking time out during the day to visit less-populated lakes around their Waseca residence. Fishing off piers, they see what they can pull up from the bottom using an industrial-strength magnet tied to the end of a rope.

“We usually do schoolwork either right away in the morning or later in the evening, so we’re able to spend time outdoors during the day,” said Abbie Hanson, Sieberg’s mother. “With social distancing, if we go somewhere and we see that there are other people there, we just wait until they’re gone.”

So far, the pair have tried Clear Lake and St. Olaf Lake in Waseca County, attracting screws, bolts, hooks, even a jewelry box. Hanson explained that her daughter first became interested in the pastime after seeing videos online. Although the pair uses a magnet that can pull up to 1,000 pounds, some enthusiasts use ones that can haul in up to 3,000 pounds worth of metal.

“We saw a few videos of people who’ve tried it in Winona and St. Cloud and mostly they’ve caught fishing lures, pliers or small tools,” said Hanson.

One of the most interesting things Sieberg has reeled in so far has been magnetic sand. Hanson said they’ve been collecting the black particles in a jar, placing a magnet on the outside of the container to move and control the sand within.

“It’s fun, because you don’t know what you’re going to catch,” said Hanson, “and it’s also helping the environment in a way by cleaning up the water.”

Reporter Bridget Kranz can be reached at 507-444-2376. Follow her on Twitter @OPPBridget. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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