Get a Hobby!: 101 All-Consuming Diversions for Any Lifestyle

Overview

Is your daily grind taking the joy out of life? Don't get glum—get a hobby!

In this entertaining, information-packed guide, journalist and ReadyMade contributing editor Tina Barseghian invites you to explore 101 thoroughly absorbing diversions, from conventional to downright wacky, that'll satisfy every taste, talent, and timetable. The bonus: Practicing a hobby boosts your all-around mental and physical health, as longtime family practitioner ...

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Overview

Is your daily grind taking the joy out of life? Don't get glum—get a hobby!

In this entertaining, information-packed guide, journalist and ReadyMade contributing editor Tina Barseghian invites you to explore 101 thoroughly absorbing diversions, from conventional to downright wacky, that'll satisfy every taste, talent, and timetable. The bonus: Practicing a hobby boosts your all-around mental and physical health, as longtime family practitioner Dr. Miguel Figueroa reveals in the Foreword.

Are you an independent, nature-loving, outdoorsy type? Consider beachcombing, caving, or mushroom hunting. Crafty, meticulous, and patient? You might enjoy needlework, knotting, or growing bonsai. Just take the personality quiz to identify those hobbies that best match your aptitude, interests, and even your mood, then it's on to the hobbies. Each hobby entry provides a playful mix of information: overviews, histories, and sample projects to help you get your hobby on, plus profiles of dedicated hobbyists and resources that'll help take you to the next level. Get a Hobby! might just be the inspiration you've been looking for.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061215278
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/2007
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

First Chapter

Get a Hobby!
101 All-Consuming Diversions for Any Lifestyle

Chapter One

Growing a houseplant can be as gratifying—and complicated—as raising a child. In the case of African violets, a temperamental but fetching plant, the parallels with child-rearing are particularly apt: They require tremendous patience, copious amounts of attention, and of course, buckets of love. But you'll dismiss the trouble as a small price to pay compared to the unquantifiable pleasures of seeing your little ones bloom.

What you'll need

An African violet plant (buy from a reputable nursery or start from a leaf cutting)
Shallow flowerpot and large saucer
Watering can with a small spout
Soil (try special African violet potting soil)
Pebbles
"Violet Food" or fertilizer specifically formulated for African violets

Overview

African violets have achieved cult status for their ability to flower year-round; their delicate petals (typically purple) and furry, heart-shaped leaves cheer up any room. But these compact houseplants show their blooms only under certain conditions. They need just the right amount of light—10 to 14 hours but not more of bright, indirect light per day, and at least 8 hours of darkness for a good rest. These plants bask in warmth, preferring temperatures between 70 and 75°F (21 to 24°C), and need soil that is moist but not wet with undistilled and unchlorinated water. As with all starlets, African violets love to be primped and groomed, so it's important to remove spent buds and leaves to create the perfect symmetry.

Today,there are more than 2,000 varieties of these houseplants under cultivation featuring blooms of many colors, including hot pink, blue, yellow, and white, some with frilly edges, all with a pop of yellow in the center.

History

Native to Tanzania and Kenya, African violets (which consist of the 20-odd species of the genus Saintpaulia, family Gesneriaceae) were first discovered in 1892 by German officer Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire, who was stationed in Tanzania. The officer chanced upon the flowers in the East Usambara mountains and sent seeds to his father, a botanist, who propagated the plants and showed them throughout Western Europe. Though they are not related to European violets, the name African violet stuck, and the plants became an instant hit in the U.S. in 1926 when a California-based grower started importing them.

Getting started

Once you've selected your first African violet and brought it home from the nursery, you'll need to replant it. Here's how you can ensure that your plant will thrive.

Plant your African violet in a small flowerpot with rich fertilizer. Because these plants need to stay moist, first cover each drainage hole in the bottom of the pot with a pebble.

Fill the pot half full with soil, carefully place your plant in the center, then add more soil around the root ball—just enough to cover it

Set the newly potted plant in a saucer of tepid water and let it absorb the water for an hour. Then fill the bottom saucer with pebbles, too. To ensure a humid environment, always keep the pebbles slightly submerged in water.

Position the pot near an east- or north-facing window so it gets the indirect sunlight it requires. If the natural light in your home does not provide optimal conditions, you can purchase a grow light and timer, available at most nurseries. If your plant doesn't flower, it isn't getting enough light. If the leaves get brown edges or spots, it's getting too much light. Adjust accordingly.

Project: starting an African violet from a leaf

If you want to expand your African violet collection, purchasing an assortment from a nursery is not your only option. It's also a cinch to cultivate violets from leaf cuttings.

What you'll need:

African violet leaf cutting
Wax paper
Clean, empty jar
String

1) Cut a healthy-looking leaf from a friend's plant. If none of your friends grow African violets, consider joining a local club for access to leaf cuttings and advice about cultivating these plants (see resources).

2) Wrap wax paper over the lid of the empty jar, then tie it with string to secure it. Poke two holes in the wax paper. Put the stem of the African violet leaf through one of the holes.

3) Use the second hole to nearly fill the jar with lukewarm water (make the hole larger if necessary). Use enough water so that it covers the stem but doesn't touch the leaf itself. For a shot of vitamins, you can add a drop of plant food.

4) Place in a sunny spot, and within six weeks a few roots should appear. Now you're ready to pot the plant.

Other cult plants: Consider trying your hand at other exotic houseplants.

Orchids. Tropical plants grown for their delicate blossoms. The orchid family, Urchidaceae, is one of the largest flowering-plant families on Earth, with about 24,000 documented species.

Bromeliads. A family of tropical and subtropical plants. Many bromeliads grow in a pattern of overlapping leaves, forming "tanks" into which gardeners pour water directly. Though bromeliads flower, they're grown for the decorative nature of their leaves, which can be streaked with purples, yellows, and reds.

Carnivorous plants. Plants that derive most of their nutrition from consuming animals, usually in the form of insects. Three of the most popular varieties for cultivation are the Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundews.

Bonsai. A tradition of using pruning and other techniques to contort small trees into specific shapes. [See Bonsai.]

Get a Hobby!
101 All-Consuming Diversions for Any Lifestyle
. Copyright © by Tina Barseghian. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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