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A night to kill.
June 4, 2012 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Engrossing projects that I can finish in one night?

Been having a bit of a frustrating/meh time lately, and am not happy about the idea of going home and mindlessly watching another documentary. I would like to be productive! And successful! Tonight!

I would love to have a project that will give me a sense of accomplishment and good feeling by about bed-time.

I have already:

*Cleaned my house. Many times
*Entertained at home
*Planted stuff on my patio
*Read so many books
*Rearranged the furniture
*Cooked elaborate dinners
*Walked from Hell's Kitchen to Williamsburg (I live in NYC)
*Gone shopping
*Written in a journal

Before you say, "Well, what are you interested in? Do that!" I would like to posit that this activity probably won't turn into a hobby for me. I just really want to kill a night or two in a productive way. So, my long-term interest in the activity doesn’t matter too, too much.

Some constraints:

*It will probably rain, no, pour tonight. Can’t be an outdoors suggestion
*It’s 5:15 pm. If the activity suggested needs a lot of supplies, it might not happen
*I would like to do it on the cheap. Unfortunately, those elaborate dinners add up
*It needs to be finished within six hours, give or take

Any ideas?
posted by functionequalsform to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 123 users marked this as a favorite
 
Check out codecadamy and learn some rudimentary programming. It will stretch your brain in ways you don't usually use unless you're already a programmer, it's free, and it's kind of fun.
posted by gauche at 2:26 PM on June 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


Make some art- something that you can hang on your wall. Make it out of spare change, leftover wood, paint, whatever you have on hand.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 2:27 PM on June 4, 2012


Got paper? Learn origami. Make greeting cards and then make your holiday ornaments early; or make flowers to give someone special - including you, if you have a vase to fill.
posted by faineant at 2:47 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


- Do you have a sewing machine? Rip up and reposition clothing you get from the thrift store.

- Also, dye said clothing, or canvas bags or army jackets from the army surplus store. Replace the buttons with something vintage or generally more interesting.

- make hair fascinators out of those buttons you make yourself from Joanne's fabric, or feathers, or anything else you think might be interesting (toy trains? weird thrift store tchochkes? tiny top hats made from cereal box cardboard and cheap stretchy velvet?)

- I make a lot of pie, personally.

- Paper flowers (you need access to that super thick crepe paper, though) or, basically, anything off the Castle in the Air class list website.

-paint thrift store furniture, or stuff you found for free on craigslist. Sell it for small amounts of money (covers your supplies) (this one's not as great for rainy days unless your house is super dry.)

-rummage through etsy for craft ideas.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:51 PM on June 4, 2012


Make a whole summer's worth of tamales or won tons or chicken stock.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:52 PM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Learn to make cheese. Or yogurt. Or sour kraut.

Wild Fermentation is a good resource for this.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:53 PM on June 4, 2012


Got snapshots? Lay out a photo album. Got digital? Organise images on a Flickr account. Take all those books, add them to Librarything. Polish the silver. Sew some envelope pillow covers by hand. Learn to knit.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Create a container pond. This can be done cheaply, say under $30. I did this on my deck several years back and documented the process here (wayback link), though I did start with a container I already had.

Can some preserves - see what fruits or berries are showing up at the farmer's market and try your hand at a single batch. Your investment will be the jars, lids/rings, and possibly some of the other tools (a large pot to boil them in and tongs to pull the jars out). Failing fresh fruit, we've made grape jelly with good bottled grape juice and pectin.

Make soap, if you can get your hands on some lye and some lard (or vegetable shortening or olive oil). This can be a little dangerous, so make sure you're working in a ventilated area. There is cold-process soap-making as well, but I've only ever done the lye stuff. The soapmaking process goes quick but the stuff will need to cure for a bit before it can be used.

Make this bread - very easy to do, and hands-down probably the best bread you'll ever eat. You really, truly won't believe how awesome it is and you'll be ruined forever.
posted by jquinby at 3:01 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Make a pretty pinata. And then bash it to bits. Mission accomplished!
posted by travelwithcats at 3:06 PM on June 4, 2012


Grab a stack of old magazines, some scissors and glue and make a collage of images you find interesting and beautiful. It's a great, low stress way to be artistic if you are not gifted in drawing or painting.

You could even try your hand at making a vision board to represent your dreams and goals visually. Or make a collage entry in your journal using images that represent what you did today, or how you're feeling, or whatever.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:12 PM on June 4, 2012


Lye's nice to have on hand for making pretzels, too.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:14 PM on June 4, 2012


Do you have any movie making programs for your computer (iMovie, etc)? Make a short message video set to music for someone you love.
posted by Kevtaro at 3:15 PM on June 4, 2012


Can you knit? Six hours is more than enough time to knit a hat, possibly even more than one hat--depending on the size and the yarn weight, I can crank one out in anywhere from about two hours up. Failing that, six hours is plenty of time to teach yourself to knit--Knitting Help is a great resource to get started from.

I'd also suggest foodstuffs. Make several types of supper-foods, and freeze them. Make a giant batch of breakfast burritos. Make several types of salad, and then you've got an assortment of healthy meals for the rest of the week.
posted by MeghanC at 4:11 PM on June 4, 2012


I just made a chain maille bracelet from a kit that a friend bought for me. I don't know if you can find supplies this late, but it was very satisfying and only took a few hours. I had enough rings left over to make a pair of earrings, plus more after that.
My kit came from Blue Buddha, but I think larger craft stores would have what you need and you can download patterns from BB.
posted by jvilter at 4:12 PM on June 4, 2012


Instructables has some entertaining projects, some great, some hilariously unsuccessful.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:16 PM on June 4, 2012


The reason why I've participated in so many mefi music swaps is that making playlists is often my "I need a one-night-only project". If you've got a bunch of music already on MP3, make a new playlist.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:30 PM on June 4, 2012


(Oh, and then having a solo dance party to your new playlist is a crucial step. You need to evaluate your list, after all.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:31 PM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am always working on a project (digital photo book on shutterfly tonight and sewing my own "swoop" toy bag). I like pinterest craft or diy boards for project ideas. TIL that a cut up shoe organizer stuck to the inside of my bathroom cabinet door is just what I need!

Or think of some area of your life that could be prettier, more organized or easier. Then google image search. Its a great source of inspiration ( a poor man's Pinterest).

Finally pick a theme!. A while back I was on a quest for the perfect chocolate cake and found it. But on the way I would test a new recipe every 3 weeks or so. Baking, icing and cleaning (and eating) would take a good chunk of the evening. I also learned all about chocolate, cocoa, dutch process and the difference between baking soda and powder. It became a bit of a hobby for me!
posted by saradarlin at 4:47 PM on June 4, 2012


I find Project Euler to be very satisfying. It's free and I find it extremely engrossing and it really satisfies the part of my brain that likes making lists and crossing the tasks out one by one.
posted by Arethusa at 5:34 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I did this today and feel a tremendous amount of accomplishment - put all sorts of crap you don't need on eBay. Time consuming and profitable.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:46 PM on June 4, 2012


Get audacity, a cheapish mic and record a song.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:36 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


So...what did you end up doing?
posted by anderjen at 10:11 AM on June 5, 2012


1. I riffed off small_ruminant's idea of making chicken stock—but I made from-scratch chicken soup instead! It was fun. And now I have a ton.

2. I wrote letters to friends, on paper and everything.

3. Still watched a documentary, but while making soup.


But tonight, I paint a wall in my house. Be afraid. I'M UNSTOPPABLE.
posted by functionequalsform at 1:21 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


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