Some of us have been making the best of these strange times.

Kathleen Craven's Green Beans
Kathleen Craven's Dr. Seuss-ian Green Beans; Courtesy of Kathleen Craven

We asked Sunset staff how they’ve been filling their extra time since COVID-19 began, and we halfway expected the answer to be “What extra time?” But it turns out that some of us have been using this opportunity to pick up or perfect some new skills and hobbies. Here’s what we’ve been up to since March.

Cooking and Growing

Kathleen Craven's Strawberries

Kathleen Craven

I’ve literally been making everything from gourmet chicken nachos and homemade shrimp teriyaki to homemade pork egg rolls and zucchini squash burgers. My teenagers went from complaining and eye rolling to “What’s for dinner, Mom?!!!”

I grew the hugest sunflowers from my first-ever garden (including strawberries and Dr. Seuss green beans; I thought the plants were dead but 2 weeks later, lo and behold, tons and tons of green beans). Mint for evening mojitos and parsley for all my soups.  

More Videos From Sunset

It has been super fun!  —Kathleen Craven, VP West Coast sales

Carving It Up

I live in a neighborhood in San Diego that gets pretty quiet at night, and that was the case even before COVID-19 shut the doors of local eateries and shops. 

The lack of foot and car traffic has made nights an especially good time to get out and improve what were originally terrible longboarding skills.

Over the last few months I’ve gone from googling “How do I stop” videos to smoothly carving around some of my neighborhood’s streets. 

We have a long way to go before COVID is in the rear-view, but investing in a board from San Diego-based Sector 9 has definitely made things more bearable. —J.D. Simkins, staff writer

On the Road to (Furniture) Recovery

Hugh Garvey's Chair

Hugh Garvey

Working from home during the pandemic I realized one of the things I hate the most about offices is office furniture. The sad fact is ergonomically correct is rarely attractive, as evidenced by the dispiritingly bland black and mesh office chair so many of us took for granted for so many years. After trying a yoga ball, a makeshift fireplace mantle standing desk, and three different styles of occasional chair, I remembered a tower of vintage midcentury bentwood dining chairs gathering dust in our garage, forlorn and threadbare after a decade of service to our family. Like many a quarantine DIYer I binge-watched a handful of how-to videos on YouTube, repurposed a bolt of leftover painter’s drop cloth, and got to work tufting, folding, stretching, and stapling. The results are far from professional, but the low-key chair’s handsome lines and old soul provide a proud foundation to a day’s work. —Hugh Garvey, executive editor

The Sewing Rookie

I’ve long harbored a fascination with sewing, being the amateur furniture maker that I am. My best move of quarantine was taking the plunge. I’m now the proud owner of a Singer Heavy Duty machine, a burlier model that can handle canvas and even some lighter leather with ease. I started off modifying garments of mine that might have been too large, or taking a spent pair of jeans and turning the leg into a bag for a yoga mat. And now everything I see has the potential to be hacked, mashed up, amended, or otherwise improved. And that’s the kind of outlook I find especially valuable when we’ve all been forced to confine ourselves to smaller worlds than ever.  —Matt Bean, editor in chief

Expanding My Horizons


Comet NEOWISE in  July 2020; photo by Nicole Clausing

Now that my world has gotten very small—some days, no bigger than my house—I find myself more than ever looking to the skies. If I can’t explore my own planet as much I’d like to, I can at least look at other ones. And because we live in a pics-or-it-didn’t-happen world, I’ve been trying to learn something about astrophotography, too. I’m….not good yet, but you don’t learn much from your successes, do you? This comet will swing back around Earth in a mere 6,000 years or so. I might be ready by then. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer