8 things I learned from watching YouTube tutorials during quarantine

From practical skills to just-for-fun activities, there's plenty you can learn from the quick online videos.
Caroline Moss

I can only scroll through Instagram so many times, and books aren't really holding my focus right now. I try not to watch the news too much and I’ve already seen all the new episodes of "The Real Housewives of New York" and "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." So what’s a girl to do?

I started casting wide nets into the vast world of YouTube tutorials to see what I could attempt to learn (read: distract myself).

1. How to draw a face (human proportions)

This one feels obvious and easy, but you should know that I was sitting next to a woman on the subway last year and I complimented the pencil sketch she was working on. It was of the woman sitting across from both of us, and it was very good. Super accurate and detailed, and all being done in seconds. I was all, “Did you go to art school?” and she was all, “Nah, I just Google things on YouTube.” Of course, the first thing I did when I got home was order a sketchbook and pencils. My drawing sucks and is not ready to be showcased here, but I am learning.

2. How to leash train my cat

Yes it’s true, Kevin the cat now goes outside in our backyard with a leash on. It started out pretty poorly (see evidence below), but now we’re in business!

I learned that the big trick is getting the kitten used to the harness. Someone gave me the analogy of it being like wearing a bra for the first time. At first, you’re hyperaware that it’s on your body and then, after a while, you get used to it.

3. How to contour my face

Yeah, this one doesn’t make a ton of sense because I have no where to go but the grocery store. And when I go there, half of my face is covered by a mask. Still, I thought this would be a good time to perfect my makeup look so that when we do eventually emerge from our homes, I shock everyone with my impeccable glam.

4. How to cut an onion like Gordon Ramsay

Swinging a knife at an onion feels like a dangerous game to play when we’re trying to avoid going to a hospital, but the more you know about how to wield a knife, the more likely it is that you’ll make it through creating your dinner without incident. Pro-tip: Make sure you have some recipes in mind that require a lot of onions so you can practice and be productive at the same time.

5. How to make a 14-second omelet like Julia Child

My friend Emily Fleischaker at the New York Times stumbled upon an old episode of Julia Child’s cooking show and watched in amazement as the famous chef shook two eggs on a hot pan for 14 seconds and then flipped it onto a plate. Fleischaker created the #JuliaChildChallenge on Instagram and joined me for my podcast “Gee Thanks, Just Bought It!” to teach me how to do it myself. Now I’m a professional omelet maker (according to me, anyway!).

6. How to start a raised bed garden

I am the most impatient person on earth. My pasta is always undercooked because I hate waiting for it to be done. Once I painted a room in my house and pushed a couch against a still-wet wall and nearly got divorced. Waiting for a plant to grow is up there with getting a root canal on my list of things I’d rather not do. But since moving to Los Angeles, I wanted to take advantage of our new outdoor garden space. I watched this YouTube video for tips, bought a bunch of starter seedlings from a local nursery (contact-free pickup!) and got to work. Now I happily watch my garden grow every day (but jeez, it’s taking forever!)

7. How to clean all of my white sneakers

I own a lot of white sneakers. Vans slip-ons, Keds, canvas slides, colorful platforms with white soles —you name it. Maybe it’s too many white shoes, but the real problem was not the volume of shoes but the fact that white shoes get dirty so quickly. With all of this time at home, I hauled out my collection of once-pristine sneaks and got to work. With a little time, elbow grease and sunshine, my shoes look good as new.

8. How to edit audio files

I have a podcast, but someone else edits it for me. I wanted to learn the basics so I could make any quick fixes in case my editor is not available. It’s so much easier to have knowledge under your belt! (But I won’t be getting nominated for a sound design Oscar anytime soon, trust me.)