Here's our guide to keeping yourself and your family occupied at home through the upcoming summer. (Midway staff)
Here's our guide to keeping yourself and your family occupied at home through the upcoming summer.

Midway staff

Bingewatch, bake and make: Ways to entertain yourself at home

June 9, 2020

Stuck at home, students are looking for new ways to entertain themselves and their families. Among the many possible ways to keep busy during this strange time are baking, making and watching. Many students are using the time at home to prepare delicious treats for their families. Others have taken up arts and crafts to try something new. The most popular activity of all, during this hiatus from social interaction, is watching — whether it’s binge-watching on Netflix or family movie nights. Learn more about the hobbies and time-killers of U-High students here.

Watch

Catch up on popular shows, movies

Students have much more free time during the stay-at-home order, so now is a perfect time to catch up on popular and critically-acclaimed TV shows and movies, many of which are coming to Video on Demand (VOD). 

Sophomore James Sowerby said he has been watching a lot of TV. Some of the shows he has been bingeing are “Mad Men,” “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “Derry Girls,” and “The West Wing,” all of which he recommends.

“They all have a different niche to fill,” James said. “’Mad Men’ and ‘West Wing’ are older dramas that are much more serious, while ‘Avatar’ is a lighter-hearted nostalgia show for me. ‘Derry Girls’ is a sitcom from Northern Ireland that’s only 20 minutes per episode, making it a quick laugh.”

“Avatar: The Last Airbender,” recently released on Netflix, has rapidly jumped to the top of its “Most Popular” section. It can be a nostalgic rewatch for Lab students who grew up with its first Nickelodeon run. Read the Midway’s review of “Avatar” here.

The acclaimed 2019 crime thriller “Uncut Gems” is also one of the most popular recent Netflix releases. It stars Adam Sandler as a desperate New York jeweler who gambles everything to stay afloat.

For those who don’t have Netflix, there are other viewing options. Amazon Prime recently released “SCOOB!” an animated film adaptation of Scooby Doo, and is set to release several other films on demand this summer.

Quibi, a brand-new video platform, allows viewers to watch short original series and films on their mobile devices.

 Hulu offers beloved comedy shows like “Family Guy, “Bob’s Burgers,” “Rick and Morty” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” as well as critically acclaimed films such as 2019’s Oscar-winning “Parasite” (read the Midway’s review here). 

These are just a few of the countless options for students looking to sit back and binge something entertaining during the lockdown. In fact, this mode of consuming film and television might become the new norm as Hollywood rapidly shifts to accommodate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Bake

Many students choose to bake to spend quality time at home

The smell of fresh cookies float through the air in sophomore Alina Susani’s home. On her counter lie delicious sablé cookies piled high on a plate. In junior Kennedy Coats’ kitchen, it’s the enticing smell of chicken tetrazzini that sits on the stove waiting to be eaten. 

These two students are using the extra time granted by the shelter-in-place order to bake and cook for their families and for themselves.

In her spare time, Alina has been baking desserts and pastries such as cookies and muffins. Not only are they delicious, but cooking gives her something to focus on besides school and the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s really calming for me,” Alina said. “It takes my mind off deadlines. It helps with managing stress, and coping with the situation that we’re in right now.”

Recipe for Oatmeal Cookies by Alina Susani adapted from a cooking website called “Love and Lemons.” (Love and Lemons)

Alina is not the only one to benefit from her hobby. She has been working on fancier baked goods, and for Mother’s Day, she made her mom some Linzer cookies.

Alina suggests that beginners start with easier items, such as oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies.

For Kennedy, cooking has always been a part of her life. Before the shelter-in-place order was in effect, she cooked for her family and friends all the time. The stay-at-home order has given her more time to develop her cooking skills.

“I’m always hungry. And now, bored as well,” Kennedy joked.

After two weeks of sheltering-in-place, Kennedy began posting cooking videos on her Instagram (@chefkwithdasauce). In the videos, Kennedy shows herself making treats such as blueberry muffins or banana bread, as well as meals like chicken pitas and couscous. 

“I figured I would do a cooking show type thing,” Kennedy said. “I really love watching cooking shows, so I figured, why not?”

Kennedy realized that since her family can’t go out to eat as often during this time, cooking is a nice way to help around the house and pass the time.

“I just happened to grow up cooking, and grow up watching cooking shows. So it all just kind of worked out that way that this is a time when I need to be cooking a lot, and I also enjoy it,” Kennedy said. 

For beginners, Kennedy suggests making mini corn dogs and chicken tetrazzini. 

 “[The chicken tetrazzini] is a really good one because you can make a lot of it at once, and it’s pretty simple,” Kennedy said. “And, it’s still really good.”

Make

Some students choose to express their creativity artistically

Junior Elena Stern sits down in her home with a jean jacket, a needle and some thread, ready to embroider. Sophomore Julien Derroitte does the same, but with a pen, pencil and paper, preparing to draw. Both are excited to escape the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Julian’s skull lettering and symbols drawing drawn with pencils and paper.

For these two students, art has been an important tool to escape the stress of the pandemic and focus on something calming.

Julien said his interest in pen and pencil drawing started young when he was experimenting with various forms of art.

“As I tried to use different mediums, I kind of evolved to like pencil and pens the most,” Julien said. “Other mediums just didn’t adhere to me as much.”

Whereas Julien’s passion for pen and pencil drawing started long before the stay-at-home order, Elena, who had some experience sewing, started embroidering during the pandemic.

“Embroidery is a whole different animal [than sewing] because it’s meant to be art; it’s meant to be its own thing. It’s not meant to be productive; it’s meant to be beautiful,” Elena said.

According to Julien, the ability to use simple tools to make beautiful images is what drew him to pen and pencil drawing in particular. 

“You can use so many techniques and different styles that it can look stunning and it can look good even with super, super simple tools,” Julien said.                                

Julien said he is open to drawing almost anything, but he tends to focus on graffiti and characters.

“Those characters could be mostly anything. The letters that I write could be mostly anything. I draw most everything,” Julien said.

Elena said she is able to express ideas and themes she is passionate about through embroidery. In one of her designs, Elena created an outline of the female body on a jacket in order to express the importance of having a positive body image, she said. 

“Being comfortable with female sexuality is really difficult in our country, in our world right now,” Elena said. “I wanted to do something that embodied that and said, ‘I’m comfortable with my body and I want the world to be comfortable with the fact that I’m comfortable with it.’”

On a broader scale, Julien said art is an outlet for creativity and a distraction from these complicated, tiring times.

“I think what’s important for most people who draw is that it gives them some sort of rest mentally,” Julien said. “Drawing can just occupy yourself so that you don’t get too caught up in everything.”

Like Julien, Elena said embroidery is a way to escape the stress of the pandemic.

“[Embroidery] kind of draws your attention away from the rest of the world. You’re just doing your thing and it’s really calming,” Elena said.

At the end of their sessions, Julien places down his pens and pencils, and Elena puts away her needle and thread. The finished products, vastly different for both of them, serve the same purpose mentally: a distraction and an escape from the stress of the pandemic.

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