My website got a makeover (thanks Tom!) so I decided I should probably write about something, but I am at a total loss over what I want to write about exactly so I am going to rate all the projects and hobbies I’ve done over lockdown because whatever, this is my blog and I’ll do what I want.

EMBROIDERY 

This is excellent because it’s like painting but with thread and I find that when I’m doing it I can just zone out. Ideally done with something you can half pay attention to on Netflix or YouTube, I use videos I’ve seen before for this. Patterns are expensive and not really worth the trouble when you can just create your own.  The internet is full of resources and even without a printer you can use your screen to trace onto any material and away you go! Thread and hoops are also pretty inexpensive to buy, but I need to find a way of finishing work that isn’t just sticking it inside the hoop because I run out of hoops so quickly. It’s super easy to start doing, just watch a couple of Youtube videos on basic stitches and away you go! Highly recommend.

WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

This is the most frustrating of paint methods for me because I find the whole process so fiddly. You’re looking at a girl who loves to paint in oils but can’t afford to do so. I got a decent set of watercolours when I got back from the US and spent the first few weeks of lockdown just painting the flowers in my mums garden. I find that watercolours work well with flowers, trees and any nature type stuff, it’s easier to get a flow of a painting down when it’s more natural. When I try and colour anime artwork in watercolour it just ends up patchy and rubbish. Painting outside is great though, excellent mindfulness activity and you get to sit in the sun and soak in all that lovely, precious vitamin D. 

DANCING/TIKTOK

I am counting this as a hobby and honestly it was the most fun one to do at the start. TikTok is an app misunderstood in my generation. Once you get over your fear of it though and start to use it it is very easy to lose hours of your day just watching these little videos. I am firmly in cosplay/alt/frog/cottagecore TikTok at the moment and my FYP frequently has Korean/Japanese/Chinese/Pakistani TikTok on it. At the start of lockdown I decided I was going to try and do one of these little TikTok dances a day and honestly it was so much fun. I wish I had more space in my room to dance though. It made me more comfortable with seeing myself on camera and my body image, which was a side result I didn’t expect. It’s helping me let me guard down and just be in the moment, which is very much welcome. I didn’t realise how rigid I am about things until I started to record TikToks and saw how stiff and reserved I can be. Dancing is the best form of exercise and I refuse to believe anything else. 

RUNNING

I downloaded the Couchto5k app from the app store and decided I wasn’t going to pay for a gym ever again, also they seem like the kind of place I’d catch COVID pretty quickly. I’m still on week one because I decided to repeat the process, I wasn’t confident I could run for more than 60 seconds honestly. I think running is quite boring but I do like going to the park, listening to my J-BOPS playlist and the running/walking combo week one has. I run/walk around the lake in the middle of the park and when I do so at 7.30am it’s super quiet and the weather isn’t too hot. This makes for an optimal running experience in my opinion. Also that early in the day it’s just me and the old aunties who like to power walk in groups around the lake catching up on gossip so there is no-one to catcall me, just someone to yell wear a dupatta when you run. (lol no not really, my grandma isn’t at the park)

SEWING

My grandma gave me a sewing machine and I decided I was going to make my own clothes. A common problem with my going into hobbies is that I just think they’re going to be easy to do and then suddenly realise there is way more to a thing. Sewing was one of those. Once I finally figured out how to thread the damn machine I then had to learn how to keep my seams in a straight line and to go slowly, which is not something that comes naturally to me. I’ve not started on the dress pattern yet, though I have the material for it, because I am still practicing how to use the machine. But I might cut the pattern out today and pin it together. I am stoked to make my own clothes though because I am trying to re-invent my own personal style which is a subject for a whole other blog post. 

DRAWING 

90% of what I draw is anime people doing things, and I’m okay with that because the goal is to start drawing my own comic soon. I picked up a bunch of drawing stuff in Japan, dip ink pens, paper and some inks, alongside a bunch of brushes and regular pens and craft knives and so I decided to put this all to good use. I’ve been mainly drawing portraits, which I think I’m rather good at now.I can get sort of likenesses of people when I do them and I have a great time inking and colouring them in. Now I’m working on body proportions and alignment but it’s all a lot easier than it used to be. I’ve been wanting to draw my own comic for years, I used to make them all the time when I was a teenager and for some reason I stopped once I moved out of my house, perhaps because I had less of the materials I needed when I was a poor Uni student. Anyway drawing is good, I enjoy it and it’s less frustrating than it  used to be for me. 

LANGUAGES

Technically these aren’t hobbies or projects, they are skills I need for future plans but I am learning to teach English as a foreign language and alongside that I am also improving my Japanese skills. English is a hard language and honestly none of it makes sense even when I totally understand what’s going on. It’s been interesting to learn how to teach English to people whilst simultaneously learning a new language myself. I did Japanese as an elective for 2 years at University, but it was mostly speaking and not writing or reading. So I’m now doing a combination of Duolingo, Japanese From Zero textbooks and Japanese101 website to improve my skills. At first I thought I was going nowhere fast but when I started to read words on YouTube videos I got very excited. I am a big believer in the fact you should always be learning, no matter what you’re doing, find a new skill or new thing to teach yourself. The internet is fantastic for this and I’m super excited to be doing TEFL and teaching myself Japanese. 

READING/WRITING

I do this anyway but it’s been amped up by the number of hours I’ve had to spend at home since March. 90% of what I read is POC authors, a lot of romance and romcom but also a big chunk of slice of life sort of stuff. I’m writing a romance novel myself so a lot of this is inspiration to see how other people are structuring their stories and also what kind of stories they are telling, especially female South Asian authors. The idea for my book came to me in Japan when I was on my way back from the mountains and I’ve not been able to get it out of my head ever since. I planned out most of the book and did character bios whilst sat on my balcony in Atami. Writing this is a slow process, once I’m not so used to. I write a few paragraphs and then go away and do other things for a few days, then come back and read over those paragraphs and edit and write a bit more. I’ve done almost 10,000 works now, which isn’t much, but I read over it a few days ago and honestly was proud of it. I think it’s going to be great. Reading more is just a great thing to do if you have the time, def high up there on things everyone should do more of. 

VIDEO GAMES

This is mostly just going to me talking about Minecraft, because I’ve really got into Minecraft over the last few months. But I’ve also been playing a lot of small indie games on Steam and re-playing some games I used to love as a kid. I enjoy storytelling in all forms, and video games to me are another form of storytelling. My favourite games are RPG, open world or point and click adventure games. Even games like Stardew Valley have a great storyline when you get into more detail. Animal Crossing even has one, with each islander you have and the things you do. But Minecraft has been my jam. I’ve been watching a lot of this series called Hermitcraft, which is a group of Minecraft YouTubers who play together on a world. It’s currently on it’s 7th season and I watch almost all of the channels that participate. I learnt a lot about building and landscaping in Minecraft from them and was able to apply it to the world I play currently with my own friends. I’m building a road system from my own base to our HQ base at the moment and then am going to make one from HQ to the village. I have plans to build a mob spawner but I need to read up on how to do that a little more. Minecraft gives me opportunities to be creative in different ways and also allows me to kill Creepers and Skeles. I’ve played over 200 hours of Animal Crossing, but have abandoned that for the new Pokemon DLC which I need to really give some time to this week. 

MAKE UP/SKIN CARE

Does this count as a hobby? It is closely related to the amount of TikTok videos I have watched. I have been trying to learn about how to use both things effectively. Which has included trying to stick to a nighttime skin care routine that I do every single day, which I am sort of getting good at now but I’m not sure it’s doing much for my face. We shall see. I’m also trying to use the make up I do have in new ways, trying out different styles, trying to nail some sort of good everyday makeup look for when I want to look better than regular wake up face Maryam. I want to put more of an effort into my appearance, which has honestly consisted of tying up my hair and picking up whatever clothes look clean for a long time now. I need to get better at presenting myself to the world. I like makeup though, I think it’s quite fun and helps with the establishing some sort of aesthetic for myself, which is also a long term goal at the moment. 

GARDENING

This one has made my mum very happy because it means I have been gardening with her! I have grown a peony which is alive and very happy, as well as growing a whole bunch of flowers that I can’t remember the names of. Whenever I garden I have Monty Don’s soothing voice in the back of my head telling me everything is okay and to just keep going. Alongside this I started a garden project where I’ve been taking photos and videos of the garden every month and will do so for the whole year and then give my mum an album of photos of her garden, since it’s the ways she expresses herself creatively. It’s been nice to see how it changes over the months, and I’m excited for all  the vegetables to get bigger so I can eat them. Gardening and a very wholesome and very relaxing pastime and you get to be outside which is always a bonus. We are very lucky to have our own really nice outside space for sure.