"Those who agree with us may not be right, but we admire their astuteness." - Cullen Hightower

Dear The Board,

What projects have you thrown yourself into during quarantine? Regular projects that weren't induced by a global pandemic are fine too, and pictures would be appreciated.

-Nellie Bly


Dear Doctor,

The playset that came in the backyard of our new home had some structural issues--mostly rotting floorboards--so, we needed to do some repair. It was our first major DIY together, and we definitely learned some lessons about working together. We cut and stained new wood, and the top canopy replacement came today. Lil' M. absolutely loves it.



I'm also working on a cross stitch project for the Church art competition, and I'm really excited about it. I had the idea almost instantly after reading the theme for this year. Ask me about it next alumni week, though, since I'm not 100% sure that I'll actually finish it.

-Tally M.


Dear ~

Projects? Is that a real thing people do? Ooooohhhh... the people sans kids, right? Right.

Survival? Does that count? Because ... that's really what I'm doing with my life.

We, uh, paid a professional to landscape our yard! I would go take photos and post them, but there's a super fun windstorm right now, so it wouldn't look pretty. How do I not already have photos of this? Huh. I would wait till tomorrow to take pictures, but I've already made this question overdue. (Remember that part about kids?) Tell you what, if someone else is also holding this up, and it's still around when I take pictures, I'll post them.

Ummmm... I have been playing a LOT of board games with Yellow 2.0. That boy is a board game fiend. He got six games for his birthday last weekend. He's only 6 years old! The current obsession is Quacks of Quedlinburg, and I have to say, I'm proud of myself for picking that out. It's super fun! (Yes, it is recommended for ages 10+. That has never stopped him from learning and crushing me in games. No, I do not play easy with him. Yes, I am a good strategy board game player. Sometimes he's just better. I'm creating a monster.)

I have been doing a lot of introspection about the way I think and act. Not all due to #BlackLivesMatter, either. There is a lot of that, but also a lot of why I feel guilty if I play a game in the middle of the day, or if after dinner I announce that I'm going to go do something for myself, like answer questions on the 100 Hour Board. Should I? No. That doesn't stop me. But I'm trying to stop it. As a therapist once told me, "[Dragon Lady], stop should-ing all over yourself." I repeat that to myself often. (Real reason, I'm an Obliger. External expectations weigh on my much more than internal expectations. So I'm constantly thinking about what I "should" do. See also: Board Question #92326.)

~ Dragon Lady


Dear you,

Seconding Dragon Lady's comment of "Survival?" Current "projects" are preparing to close on a house and "being 8 months pregnant."

~Anne, Certainly 


Dear Nellie,

I've been crocheting a blanket that's sort of a faux plaid, ignoring the afghan I've already crocheted all the hexagons for but don't want to piece together, and on my knitting machine I made my first sweater and winter hat. 




Yes, I am slightly worried that wearing a hat with her name emblazoned on it will make my daughter easier to kidnap. I'm also in the middle of screening in my back porch which is overrun with carpenter bees, birds, and giant ants. Just look at my eaves!


It's going to be a long project, but we get mosquitoes well into November, so I'm hoping to get some use out of it before the end of the year.

-Genuine Article


Dear Nellie Bly,

I was already starting to knit through the winter but it's really started to become a passion hobby over the quarantine. Right now, I'm loom knitting a throw blanket. It keeps my hands and mind busy yet doesn't require a lot of thought. Man, I love not thinking for a while.

I've also been playing my way through The Witcher 3 and Stardew Valley, both of which are delightful in their own very different ways. Probably not going to finish the first one until, like... at least the end of the year. Mostly because I'm really into Stardew Valley and spend my video game time on it. And also because The Witcher 3 is way too big for its own good.

-Van Goff


Dear Elizabeth,

I've been trying (and mostly failing) to finish a robot that I was working on for a class last semester.


(Don't worry, this is an old picture and I promise that I have since cleaned up the horrific wiring mess.)

Also, because of that project, I have become increasingly aware that I have no good methods of organizing my electrical components/sensors/computers/deadly batteries, and so I bought myself a tackle box for that purpose. It was ugly, so I decided to paint it. 


(Unfortunately, artsy things are not exactly my talent, and so I have paused on that project for a moment to consider how I might salvage it.)

Just tryin' my best out here.




Dear Nellie, 

The project(s) I've spent the most time on have been decorating my apartment! 

Some things I've done: 

  • Bought a couch and a loveseat for $30, restuffed them, stitched up the holes, and covered them with a much nicer black microfiber fabric. 
  • Gotten a lot of pillow covers, which may be my new addiction. 
  • (Pebble) put together these cute lamps that we got from our registry.
  • Put together a bookshelf and *attempted* to organize/arrange it in a cute way. I need IKEA to open back up so I can buy some cheap artificial plants (because I'm incapable of keeping real ones alive and the fake ones are far too expensive everywhere else)
  • Bought some cute macrame plant holders (which I technically could have made myself but didn't because I'm lazy) Unfortunately the plants I have aren't in big enough pots for the holders (see previous comment about IKEA.) 
  • Started buying candles again (uh oh!) 
  • Mourned over not being able to put up curtains in our nice big living room window due to the landlord's policies. 

Interior design is one of my favorite side-interests, so while I can't paint my walls or get rid of the ugly green carpet, I have at least been enjoying some of these smaller decor projects that make my living space that much better to exist in 24/7 thanks to COVID.  

A not-very-high-quality photo for you: 





Dear Susan,

I'm getting my TEFL certificate. That's a pretty good project.



Dear person,

I organized all my belongings and threw out a bunch of stuff to prepare for moving. I completed and defended my dissertation (hallelujah). I finished up and started a new research project for work. And most importantly, I started playing a farm game called Stardew Valley. I'm not much of a video game person normally but not being able to go out and do as much stuff as I like to has broadened my horizons. 



Dear Nellie,

I'm writing a musical with my brother. To be fair, we've actually been writing it for like four years, but being locked in a house together has meant that we're actually working on it consistently for the first time in... four years. 

Also ich bin Deutsche gelerning. (No idea if that's right. I don't even know yet if there's a present progressive tense in German.)

Yours, &c.

Heidi Book


Dear Ely Nbllie,

Quarantine split up my regular Dungeons & Dragons group, which I'm none too happy about, so I've been playing around with some automated D&D Discord bots while I contemplate the feasibility of resuming our campaign remotely over voice and text chat. 

I also ended up having to work on an incomplete contract for one of my classes, and that's due June 30, which is part of the reason I've been so overanxious all spring. But I'll get it done with ample time if I can just keep my motivation up.




Dear NB,

I've spent quarantine trying to get my younger brother back into video games remotely. He got back from his mission a year ago quite uninterested with playing games, so I've had to ease him back in carefully. Rocket League is what finally did it. He loves soccer and he loves cars, so a technically demanding, competitive game with rocket powered flying soccer cars really caught his attention. We've played a lot of Rocket League together online, as well as a few other games. I think it's been really good for both of us! It's the best way to feel like he's there in the room, more so than just talking on the phone by itself. We both need some of that with quarantine going on.



Dear Nellie,

I've been reading more books in Esperanto and I signed up for the North American intensive course, which is online this year! 



Dear you,

Quarantine switched Dr. Occam’s job to a permanent remote position, which led to me deciding on the spur of the moment that we should move several states away. I’ve been packing and yeeting stuff I don’t want to pack. I have so many books. 



Hi friend,

I adopted two orange tabbies, so I've been learning a lot about cat behavior and cat care. It turns out that cats are delightful! I've also been working a lot on embroidery and trying to establish my own style.



Dear Aziraphale,

As an early birthday present, my parents gave me a very nice watercolor set, so I've been trying to learn how to paint with watercolors! I'm still not that great (don't judge me, all you alumni who are amazing artists), but have definitely been making progress.




Dear Nellie,

I wish I could say I've been extra productive, but when you have children home for more hours of the day than normal, making more messes than usual... Well, it mostly made me depressed that I couldn't keep up with their destruction, to say nothing of doing all the crafty, adventurous, extra-special things with my kids that everyone else on social media seems to be doing. So, overall, I got less productive, unless you count "worrying about the state of the world" as useful.

I did make some face masks for my family. Mostly my kids play with them, using them as clothing or diapers for their stuffed animals. And I designed our basement bathroom, which is coming together verrry slooowwly. Mr. Maven is doing all the work himself, so we're saving money, it just takes a long time. Last, I've been playing a lot of video games to distract myself from worry. I finished my second play through of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (I finally got my S support with Claude, a.k.a. the only person I wanted to romance in this game) and decided it was too monotonous to play through the third house (Dimitri's too moody/crazy anyway), so I started Final Fantasy 7 Remake instead (it's been so long since I played the original that it's basically a whole new game to me, and I'm loving Cloud's tough/awkward personality).



Dear yusef,

Right now I'm trying to turn this space in our backyard into a space we can actually use. Here's how it started:


As you can see, it could be a garden, or could be a place to pull out some camp chairs, but since we've lived here it has just been a dirt patch. 

We're just renting but I got permission from the landlord to revamp it and it has been a blast. And a pain learning that just because I watch a lot of DIY stuff doesn't mean I automatically know how to do things. But still a blast. 

After removing the old mulch, I used a pressure washer to clean the walls and get some of the ugly paint off. It was not nearly as easy as any of the satisfying pressure washing videos made it seem, but I eventually figured it out well enough to uncover some beautiful wood. You can see what a difference it made in this picture. 


This week I've spent most days painting, which has been fun but more exhausting than I expected. Today I rented a paint sprayer and apparently I should have done that from the beginning because it was a million times faster than any other method. Here's a progress shot. 


Now we just have to lay gravel, make a pallet couch, add some decor, and order a tarp so we can project movies. And hopefully we can finish that soon enough to actually enjoy it this summer.So if anyone has 3 cubic yards of pea gravel they don't want for some reason, I'd be happy to take it off your hands. 

Other than that I've been doing a lot of embroidery. I opened an Etsy shop at the beginning of the year, and I think I may want to move to a different type of site, but it's been a good learning experience. Here are some of my favorite pieces I've done since the world started falling apart. 

This was inspired by Rosie Card's great Instagram captions. 


This was for Infertility Awareness Week. 


And this one was a joint project with my sister-in-law. It was her first time doing any embroidery and she did everything but the hair! And it's a 12-inch hoop so it was a big undertaking. I was a very proud embroidery mom. We still need to finish the hoop (and brush off all the thread bits), but I think this is one of my favorite designs I've worked on. 


In classic Board fashion, I don't know why it's rotated and I don't know how to fix it. 

-Auto Surf


Dear Nellie:

Writing a screenplay in 30 days, certifying to become a yoga teacher, monogamy.

I was surprised too.



Dear Nel,

Potty training a 3-year-old and growing a 4-month-old. The first one was surprisingly easy (thanks to Black Sheep's advice!), the second surprisingly hard.

(Before the quarantine, while I was on parental leave) Shopping at as many different ethnic grocery stores and bakeries as I could with a 3-year-old.



Dear Nellie,

I've been getting into birdwatching for a while now and finally bought a decent camera last fall, but since COVID started messing with everything it's been one of my last lifelines to normalcy. I've taken thousands of pictures in the last few months, but nothing can compare to a family of white-tailed kites I caught on Global Big Day last month:

pair of white tailed kites cropped.jpg

another white tailed kite cropped.jpg

It was the best hour of birding of my life. I still can't believe how incredibly lucky I was.



Dear Nellie Bly, 

Trying to get strong enough to do a pull-up. I'm closer, but not yet at the bar. (Ha.) I'm also trying to rehab some injuries so I can get back to running, which is going...ok. My son has learned to say "Mama do tiiiiiiny run" so he's pretty much got the concept. 



Dear Nellie,

My first quarantine project was to put together a photobook of my wedding photos. Since then, I've been doing a lot of reading, making little crafts out of felt, and learning to embroider and knit. Occasionally I've also thrown myself into some sort of cleaning or organization project, but that's mostly just work avoidance. 



Dear Paprika,

I started a real garden! I've planted tomatoes for years (with varying degrees of success) in my regular flower bed because it was the only space I had in my apartment, but now that we're in a house, I have a new planter box and a ton of adorable little plants.


I have tomatoes, cucumber, strawberries, bell peppers, and onions. I only wanted to plant one or two onion plants, but apparently they only sell them in groups of 25, so in several weeks, everyone is invited to my house for an onion ring party.

This was started long before quarantine, but I'm on the last row of my English Paper Piecing quilt!


It's all hand-stitched, and I've been working on it for 16 months. After I finish the row in progress, I need to make the edges straight (I haven't decided how) and then it's done. I expect it will be another few months.

-Marguerite St. Just


Dear Nellie,

Keeping my child alive.

-Goldie Rose


Dear you,

Protesting police brutality.