Hobby Blog Post by Jessica Pack

Years ago, writing was my hobby—the creative break I needed from day to day life. Now that writing is my work, I’ve had to find other hobbies to provide the much-needed creative breaks. Rather than finding one thing I put time into and develop, I have instead found dozens of mini-hobbies. The upside of having many hobbies, is that things are always fresh and new. The downside is that I never get very good at any one thing and it never goes quite to plan.

Last summer I went to   my cousin’s house and saw a version of a cinder block patio bench she and her husband had made. Genius! The DIY articles I looked up said that it was a two to four-hour project. My bench took approximately 15 hours. To make it, I purchased twenty-four cinder blocks, six cedar poles, spray paint, and liquid nails. You might notice that there are only twelve cinder blocks in the final product, that’s because I bought the cheaper ones online first and then had to buy the right ones. The twelve sub-par blocks have been put to work in other places around my yard. I also bought untreated (i.e. cheaper) cedar poles because I had some extra stain lying around—guess how long it takes to stain untreated cedar poles? I didn’t even count that time in my final tally. It’s a cool bench though, right? Unfortunately, it’s not very comfortable to sit on, the stock sizes of cushions don’t fit, and since most of my family is short, our feet don’t touch the ground when we sit on it. But it is sturdy, I tell you that.

Next, I stumbled upon cozy cross stitch designs with non-traditional phrases while scrolling Pinterest. Another brilliant idea! I messed up my counting in the upper right-hand corner and had to improvise but forty hours after starting, I had this spectacular piece of handwork. I showed it to a friend once I’d finished and she said that it was really good advice. I was too embarrassed to tell her it was lyrics from “Ice, Ice Baby.” Now it’s displayed in my living room and I watch to see if visitors get it or just think I’m advocating team work and organization.

My most recent hobby is an online vegetarian cooking course. I’ve been mostly vegetarian for a while but I struggle to know what to cook other than cookies, which are, in fact, vegetarian. My family has not enjoyed the bean paste with mushrooms, roasted balsamic yams, or quinoa salads as much as cookies. Fortunately, I have five weeks left in my course so I’m holding out hope that I’m going to be making some pretty amazing vegetarian dishes by the time I finish.

And then what will I do? Well, I’m certain the perfect project will come my way, take four times longer than it should and result in mediocre final product. I’m good with that. 🙂

“In the vein of Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes, As Wide as the Sky explores the human component of tragedy.” —Mandy Mikulencak, author of The Last Suppers

“Characters as rich and indelible as the life they endure . . . A phenomenal read.” –Internationally Bestselling Author Davis Bunn

Five a.m.: Amanda Mallorie wakes to the knowledge that her son Robbie is gone. And a new chapter of her own life must begin. She has spent four years as her son’s only support, desperately trying to understand the actions that landed him on death row and to change his fate. Now Amanda faces an even more difficult task—finding a way, and a reason, to move forward with her own life.

Before the tragedy that unfolded in a South Dakota mall, Robbie was just like other people’s sons or daughters. Sometimes troubled, but sweet and full of goodness too. That’s the little boy Amanda remembers as she packs up his childhood treasures and progress reports, and discovers a class ring she’s never seen before. Who does it belong to and why did Robbie have it in his possession? So begins a journey that will remind her not only of who Robbie used to be, but of a time when she wasn’t afraid—to talk to strangers, to help those in need, to reach out. Robbie’s choices can never be unmade, but there may still be time for forgiveness and trust to grow again. For a future as wide as the sky.