I finished the miniature kit I bought at the start of lockdown, which was kind of bittersweet because I was so sure that by the time I’d assembled everything life would be back to normal. It almost seemed like a sort of talisman, you know? As nice as it was to finally clear the kitchen table from its permanent clutter of papers and plastic pieces and spilled glue it also felt a bit like a defeat.

I was also somewhat defeated by the project itself in that none of it looked exactly like the pristine example and somewhere along the line I managed to lose a piece or two so it’s not completely done to spec and also there was this one cactus plant that was just so impossibly hard I gave up on it, but overall I persevered through many squinty hours of painstaking work and that’s something, I suppose.

It IS cute, isn’t it? (PLEASE TELL ME IT’S CUTE.) There were many staggeringly difficult phases but I think the worst was hand-wiring the wee little lamp which required a level of hand-eye coordination I honestly didn’t think I was capable of.

If you are intrigued by this and want to give it a try, or perhaps gift it to some unwitting victim, I will tell you that it was, for me, pretty much equally frustrating and rewarding. I did enjoy having something engrossing to do that that lasted for actual weeks, but it was also maddening to be unable to create the “perfect” outcome over and over. So if you want something like a zen koan that teaches you the art of acceptance while also triggering eyestrain and moments of pure rage, this may be the ideal project for you!

Here are some Amazon links to what I purchased, if you’re interested:

• The kit itself, which technically comes with everything you need
Glue with a more precise applicator tip than what is included
• A very precise pair of scissors because your dull kitchen shears definitely won’t do. (You’ll also need an exacto blade for a couple things)
• A paper scoring tool because folding some of the items is INSANE
• A pair of magnifying goggles that also LIGHT UP which was great for my middle-aged eyesight (a magnifying glass on a holder would work just fine too)

Now that I’m done with it and the world did not magically CTRL-ALT-DEL itself back to pre-February mode, I guess it would be nice to have another hand-busying project to do, particularly since my default hobby is ferrying an endless assortment of empty carbohydrates into my face-hole.

Do you tinker or make things? What activities are you finding soothing or distracting right now?


29 Responses to “Idle hands, devil’s work”

  1. Pete MI Haidinyak on April 17th, 2020 10:35 am

    I’m trying to finish up my house to sell it. Great timing isn’t it.

  2. Patty on April 17th, 2020 10:51 am

    It’s darling! Last winter I bought a paint by number kit thinking it would be so nostalgic and fun. Upon receipt, I immediately went to Amazon and ordered an LED light/magnifying mirror contraption that I continually had to keep cleaning my nose prints off of as I hunched over, trying to paint impossibly tiny spots. No amount of my prescription bifocals would allow my then 57 year old eyes to see those paint areas and their numbers. Now I will see a paint by number kit and my lizard brain kicks in and gives me a big fat NOPE. Quarantine so far is cleaning out stuff. Satisfying but also UGH.

  3. Emily on April 17th, 2020 11:12 am

    It REALLY is adorable! And the cat looks in agreement. Are you going to order the other kit now? Kiddos and I have been doing puzzles off and on, as well as coloring by number – but simple ones with colored pencils, nothing fancy like Patty! No books written or languages learned either up here in this crib.

  4. Penne on April 17th, 2020 11:24 am

    My middle-aged eyes hurt just imagining all the squinting to make this adorableness. I love it and want to live in it.

  5. Karen on April 17th, 2020 11:29 am

    Linda that is adorable – you did a great job! Next month I’m fearing my work load may slow down more than I like, so I hope to get to scanning all those photos I keep saying I’m going to do and get rid of the boxes stashed around here holding said photos.

  6. JennB33 on April 17th, 2020 11:44 am

    I love it! And it gives me a headache from attempting to do anything like that because I have man-hands and bad eyes. But WOW!
    Here’s what I’ve been doing. Working. A lot. In the interim, I’m trying to learn to enjoy gardening, and since I’m home so much I’m hacking at EVERYTHING out there. And I do love it. I’m trying to read more and watch less tv but I don’t love my books. My boyfriend built me a tiny library that we are putting up this weekend, so I hope to bring some joy to my street (and get some books! darn it!). No money to buy on Amazon plus Bezos is in fact the devil. I’m desperate for adult chatter. I should study for my certification. I should exercise. Instead I’m learning how to live one day at a time. For a type-A planner, this is a meditation in and of itself.

  7. sooboo on April 17th, 2020 11:53 am

    I love it! It’s totally adorable! Getting lost in miniature worlds is one of my favorite things. I’m an artist so I’m just working on my usual work but I’ve found myself less interested in thinking about an audience and more interested in making things that make me happy. I also have a rock tumbling kit in the basement I’ve been thinking about dusting off. I donated this puzzle (https://www.pomegranate.com/aa421.html) because it sat around for literally years half done and now I’m considering buying it again!

  8. Lynn on April 17th, 2020 12:18 pm

    Honestly? I thought the first photo was the advertised picture and wanted to scroll down to compare to yours…

  9. Suzanne on April 17th, 2020 12:23 pm

    It is truly SO CUTE. I am very impressed by your patience and tenacity.

  10. Zuzana on April 17th, 2020 1:06 pm

    Great job, I wanna live in it! I would have probably hulk-smashed in the first 30 minutes. So what’s next? :)

  11. Karen on April 17th, 2020 1:31 pm

    It’s adorable.

    I’m doing more gardening than usual. Also, if you have a group of mask-sewers in your area, you can cut fabric for them. Sewing the masks is an option too, of course, as is knitting the headbands which protect the ears from the wear of the elastic bands. I haven’t knitted in years, but I remember it as an easy and soothing activity. Should probably try again!

  12. Gigi on April 17th, 2020 2:03 pm

    It is SO CUTE! Bravo to you for finishing it!

    In between doing work from home, I alternate between spring cleaning, a puzzle or practicing cross stitch just to kill some time. I have to take my contacts off and use my old near sighted eyes to do the cross stitch though, so my nose is always in danger of being pierced by the needle.

  13. Cara on April 17th, 2020 2:12 pm

    Hand to heart, when I saw the picture I squealed “it’s so cute!”

    Do you have any interest in crochet? There are lots of tutorials on line for teaching yourself, and the basics are pretty simple. (Admittedly, I learned as a child, but I have taught others and stand by the statement.) I bought a big cone of cotton yarn and am making dishcloths.

  14. k on April 17th, 2020 3:19 pm

    Oh I love it! Everything is so adorably wee!

  15. Joanna on April 17th, 2020 4:48 pm

    I love it! Can I live in it?

    Before everyone got busy and distracted with marriage and kids, we used to do a miniature gingerbread house contest at Christmas with my family. I got so into it – one year I realized I sat there for 6 hours. My finished masterpiece included an outhouse with a tiny being inside reading a newspaper. Clearly I could definitely get into a miniature hobby!

    I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old so most of my hobbies are hypothetical but I do love to sew. I’ve sewn a few face masks for us and friends – rewarding but not exactly an escape from the pandemic.

    For now reading is my thing – I am a slow and sleepy reader but I enjoy it. We are getting a pandemic puppy next month so I’m hoping I will get moments here and there to read with a warm puppy on my lap.

  16. Kathy on April 17th, 2020 6:23 pm

    I remember (back in the day) absolutely scoffing that my mom couldn’t thread a needle or being embarrassed when she’d ask me how much something cost because she couldn’t read the price tag without her glasses. I am now her. (omg as if quarantine isn’t bad enough!)

    All this to say this project gives me SO MUCH ANXIETY but also IT IS ADORABLE!!!!! Lovely to check back in and see it finished :)

  17. Laura on April 17th, 2020 6:37 pm

    It’s so cute!

    I’m going to finally make my 3rd child a baby book. She turns 7 in May. 😳🤦‍♀️

    Check out ColorKu on Amazon, whole family loves it!

  18. Maggie on April 17th, 2020 7:53 pm

    Okay. I bought this after being inspired by you. It’s still in the box!!!! Eh, maybe I’ll tackle it during the next pandemic.

  19. Elizabeth on April 17th, 2020 8:40 pm

    It is adorable. However, I have hooves for hands and don’t do well with tiny things. I hated Barbies as a kid because they frustrated me so much! I crochet and am teaching myself to sew to keep busy. I also play endless games of cup pong on my phone (even though I’m terrible!) and Cupcakes.

  20. TinaNZ on April 17th, 2020 11:19 pm

    It is really cute. Well done on having the patience to finish it. I really need those magnifying goggles so I don’t need the light of a thousand suns to do crafts (but they are now out of stock).

    I have a suggestion from my experience with a miniature kit – if possible, get hold of a cover or dome for it. There’s no way to dust one of those things without knocking everything to hell and sideways.

  21. Kristin on April 18th, 2020 4:38 pm

    It is cute! And look at your cat looking at it! All so cute!

  22. Melissa on April 19th, 2020 4:41 am


    I’m knitting like my family will depend on me to personally keep them in socks and hats and sweaters. It is soothing, mistakes can be undone, it keeps my hands busy, and allows TV watching while still feeling productive. I’ve also cleaned my house down to the baseboards and trim and closets. That was less fun, more exhausting (my arms ached from scrubbing). Now I’m getting ready to do more gardening if the rain ever let’s up. I’m in the Mid-Atlantic. It should be in the 60s now, but is stubbornly 50s, with grim clouds and rain and 25 mph winds for the last 10 days. Today is sunny but the forecast for the rest of the week is more moors-and-dour.

  23. Belle on April 19th, 2020 5:54 am

    Oh, that is so cute! I am doing many things to try to alieve anxiety but mostly it consists of *thinking of doing them. Sometimes that takes up the whole day!

  24. jill on April 19th, 2020 9:05 am

    It’s adorable. I thought I might learn to knit, but I’m not able to follow the YouTube videos, even the ones for beginners. Once I am through a big work project I think I am going to Zoom with a friend who is a knitter and have her talk me through it.

  25. michelle f. on April 19th, 2020 11:38 am

    it looks wonderful! if there are mistakes we can’t see them. my husband actually thought it was a real ‘she-shed’ looking at it from across the room, when he got up close he realized it was “just a doll house”. i have had a flare up of r.a. plus pinched nerves in my neck from playing endless games of ‘wordscapes’ and ‘candy crush’ and watching netflix. the dr. said to lay off the tablet & computer. so, what the hell else am i going to do?

  26. Liz Kellermeyer on April 20th, 2020 8:41 am

    I love it! Super cute

  27. Suzette on April 21st, 2020 3:03 pm

    So cute. Great job. We bought one last year. Opened it up and looked at ALL the teeny tiny parts and promptly filed it in the drawer “for later”. Well after doing multiple puzzles, we have decided to tackle this project. Will be ordering those magnifying goggles sure!!

  28. Julie on April 21st, 2020 3:16 pm

    LOVE! I’ve already checked Amazon out. They’ve got several options available.

  29. Margot on April 24th, 2020 9:54 am

    It is really cute, and you did an amazing job!
    This description on the Amazon website did make me laugh: “This miniature dollhouse will be a very attractive decorations when you put it in the Bookcase, Display Cabinets etc. after enjoying assembling process. Turn on the LED Light at night, it’s warmhearted and attractive. Your family, friends, classmates or guests will give you praise from heart.”
    Here’s praise from my heart! I absolutely love your writing, too, by the way. Stay safe!

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