Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hobbies that Begin with "P" - Blogging from A to Z Challenge

During the 2018 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on hobbies that I have introduced to my daughters to through their childhood and teen years. Some were done as part of homeschooling, while others were areas that we explored because we were interested in the subject or activity. These are hobbies that anyone of any age could try as well.


In contrast to yesterday's letter which had one hobby, Sophia and Olivia have explored eight hobbies that begin with the letter "P": painting, philately (postage stamps), photography, piano playing, plane spotting, playing musical instruments, pottery, printmaking, and puppetry.


One of the girls' favorite hobbies has been painting. We started with wet-on-wet watercolors by putting the watercolor paper in water. The watercolors would spread in unpredictable ways which was pretty.
November 4, 2007

The girls also experimented with different forms of painting - like putting liquid watercolor paint in a spray bottle and seeing the result of blocking sections of the paper with a hand or foot.

February 8, 2008

The girls moved onto acrylic paint, and would decorate different things - like their initials on little canvases.

December 26, 2008

When we've traveled, we've had opportunities to paint. In Boston, there was an art festival that we stumbled upon. There were murals that children could paint. Olivia had a lot of fun adding to the mural.

September 10, 2011

At home, we would study artists and then try to replicate their artistic style. Below, the girls are doing splatter painting - like Jackson Pollock.

December 1, 2011

The dogs enjoyed watching or resting by the girls when they painted.

December 1, 2011

Olivia was having fun doing splatter painting.

December 1, 2011

We would see ideas on the internet or Pinterest that we wanted to try. For example, the girls used markers to color various geometric shapes below. Then, they put drops of water onto the paper and shifted the paper. The "marker paint" would move in random patterns.

April 28, 2013

When the painting was dry, they outlined each shape and water marking with a black Sharpie to give the painting a unique appearance.

April 28, 2013

One interesting opportunity we had was going to the Minneapolis Institute of Art with my mom (the girls' grandma) on a tactile tour. Because my mom was nearly blind, she could wear gloves and explore various works of art through touch. The tour was led by a docent who brought us to different sculptures and paintings.

Since paintings aren't textural, the docent offered us each a tactile replication of a painting of olive trees done by Vincent Van Gogh. The girls were encouraged to close their eyes to experience what my mom was experiencing.

May 10, 2013

Another idea that we saw on the internet was a circular alphabet. Olivia drew the line and then added the letters. She filled in the spaces between the letters with watercolor paint. She framed it and it is still on her wall almost five years later.

July 11, 2013

During the summer of 2013, the girls participated in a youth book club that I led. We did painting activities in several of the sessions.

August 23, 2013

An important part of painting is sharing our skills and interest with others. Below, the girls are providing companionship and encouragement to John, one of the seniors who lived at Christian Community Home.

February 6, 2014

One of the fun things that the girls did in 2015 was do plen air painting with the Wyoming Area Community Arts Center. All the participants received a canvas, brush, and a variety of acrylic paint colors. The youth could paint whatever they wanted. Olivia decided she would paint two pumpkins since it was Fall.

September 9, 2015 - pumpkins

A major project that Olivia undertook was designing and creating the Washington County Barn Quilt Trail in 2015-16. 

June 26, 2016

She designed 18 barn quilts based on The Quiltmaker's Gift

September 6, 2016

In addition, she coordinated the efforts of over 100 volunteers who helped with woodworking, painting, and installation of the quilts. 

The eight barn quilts below are either 4'x4' or 2'x2' in size. There were two more done with this batch, but painted at Christ Lutheran Church. In 2015, there were eight other barn quilts made ranging in size from 8'x8' to 4'x4'. The largest quilt weighed over 100 pounds!

September 9, 2016

Because of her work with the Barn Quilt Trail, she was hired by a couple who wanted to have their windmill painted. They wanted it to be done in a patriotic theme since two family members were veterans.

August 18, 2016

Painting on metal and having a unusual painting surface with blades, screws, and bolts to work on and around, was a good challenge.

On each side of the windmill tail, there were stars - just like on the American flag.

September 4, 2016

The components were done and ready to be installed on September 6, 2016.

September 6, 2016

It wasn't until January 18, 2017, when it was installed by a local tree trimming company that had a bucket and equipment to lift the windmill in place. 

January 18, 2017

The finished windmill looked great against the blue sky.

January 18, 2017

Philately (Postage Stamps)

Both Sophia and Olivia have been interested in philately since they were young - about 6 and 4 years old. Sophia's first project for the county fair involved looking through piles of postage stamps and finding Queen Elizabeth II stamps. There were different color and denominations.

August 1, 2007

For Sophia's 7th birthday, she received sheets of stamps from her birthday. Some were from the year she was born and others were from the current year.

December 30, 2007

During the home economics course, we were studying different cultures. We focused on their food and geography as well as their postage stamps.

July 29, 2009


One of the first phones that Olivia used was a digital camera of mine. It would save the photographs on a floppy disk - quite a change from the tiny disks we use now.

June 16, 2006

When we did a tour of the New England States, we stopped at a zoo. Each of the girls had their own camera to document their journey and what they wanted to remember.

September 6, 2011

Our pets have been frequent subject matter.

April 16, 2013

Locally, we enjoy going out and taking photos of places that we are visiting. Below, Sophia is at Franconia Sculpture Park experimenting with different angles as she takes a photo.

March 9, 2018

The Sculpture Park is a great site for practicing photo skills. Below, Olivia is taking Sophia's photo on one of the sculptures.

March 9, 2018

Piano Playing

Another thing that is an integral part of our life is music - especially piano. We purchased a piano even before the girls were adopted. As they got older, they would plunk on the keys or listen to me play the piano.

January 31, 2008

By the time they were 8 and 10 years old, they were performing pieces for audiences. Below, Olivia is playing the piano for seniors at a nursing home.

December 18, 2011

She also played the piano for her grandma. This is the same piano that I played on when I was growing up.

June 27, 2012

It was nice to see the girls playing piano I had practiced countless hours on.

October 14, 2012

Sometimes the dogs like to be right up on the bench or nearby when they listen to piano music. It seems like the closer they can get to the person playing the piano, the happier they are.

April 2, 2013

An important part of having musical skills is sharing those gifts with others. Below, Olivia played the piano for seniors at Christian Community Home. Sophia also played the harp and piano for the seniors.

December 22, 2014

Plane Spotting

We have been spotting planes for many years now. The best place to spot them are at airport shows where there are quite a few small planes coming in to participate in the show.

August 14, 2009

One year, we had a very low-flying jet go above our propriety.  Thought it was quite odd that the plane was so low (as evidenced by the tree in the lower left side of the photo).

June 8, 2011

At one art show, there were pilots who were doing maneuvers in unison with others or by themselves. It was fun to see the exhaust coming out of the planes and nose-dives that the pilots did.

September 6, 2013

Playing Musical Instruments

In addition to playing the piano the girls have had fun with other instruments - like these bronze acorns and oak leaves. If they gently tapped acorns or leaves with a stick, they would make a beautiful sound. 

August 31, 2007

The girls also had fun learning how to play the small accordion.

November 30, 2007

One of the larger instruments that Sophia and I had an opportunity to try playing was the gamelan. There were other people sitting at different instruments so we all sounded like we playing i

July 12, 2009

Sophia was excited when she was able to start playing the harp. This was the instrument that she wanted to learn how to play (after she took one year of piano lessons).
May 13, 2011


Sophia made a white bird bath for indoor display for the nature table. She entered it in the county fair and it won a top honor.

May 10, 2010

The girls made lots of pinch pots in their homeschool ceramics class. They glazed the pots and then they were fired in the kiln.

December 1, 2011

We saw an idea on Pinterest for rolling out clay and then pressing a doily into the clay. The textured piece was put into a bowl and then trimmed. Although it didn't turn exactly like the photo on Pinterest, the end result was intriguing.

February 16, 2014

On January 27, 2018, we went to White Bear Center for the Arts for its open house. One of the activities was working with clay on the pottery wheel.

Olivia enjoyed making a bowl.

Sophia did too.


We did a couple of different types of printmaking. For one type, the girls created their image into foam rectangles.

January 30, 2008

They applied paint to the designed side and then pressed into onto paper. 

January 30, 2008

Another type of printmaking was potato printing. Below, Olivia is making lucky clovers for St. Patrick's Day.

March 12, 2009


I  would make little puppets for the girls to use and play with when they were younger. Some of the puppets could be used both as pencil toppers and party decorations.

January 18, 2008
The puppets I made for the girls all were made from wool felt and embroidery floss. I used felt, lace trim, and floss that I had on hand - making them quite resourceful toys. 

January 18, 2008

When we traveled to Duluth in 2008, we stopped at The Depot and saw larger-than-life puppets created by Heart of the beast.

September 2, 2008

A couple of years later, we saw the large puppets in action at the Minneapolis Orchestra. It was  memorable and fun to watch as the orchestra played.

December 2, 2010


Seema Misra said...

Wow ... your kids must be super entertained and talented, being introduced to so many activities. I loved this painting idea - April 28, 2013 - the watercolor and then outlining with sharpie. And the puppets are super cute :)


Melanie Crouse said...

I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of "P" hobbies! This is amazing. What a treasury of ideas you are giving to me.
Melanie's Stories

Suddenly Susan said...

Your children are so lucky to have you inspire them this way! What a great post. Love the photos and ideas. I am not participating in the blog challenge this year ... too busy ... but I am reading as many blogs as I can. I found yours last year or year before and have been following your blog ever since. Love it!


Shirley Corder said...

What an amazing selection of P hobbies - not to mention all your photographs. I find it takes hours to accumulate and post so many. Well done! Persevere if you want to improve your life and your mind. #atoz

Unknown said...

Wow. This is an awesome post. My older daughter loves painting and I am going to share some of these ideas with her. Thanks so much for sharing.

Purba chakraborty said...

Such lovely hobbies! Loved the photographs :)

Tamara said...

I am in awe at your family's creativeness! Painters, Photographers, Potters, Musicians, wow! And that's just the letter P :-)

Nilanjana Bose said...

Wow! An impressive list for P. Your girls are really talented and are getting some great exposure. I particularly loved the quilt design project and the windmill - beyond spectacular!

bookworm said...

It's a beautiful thing to see children grow and develop in their talents. You've exposed them to a lot of different experiences. I loved the patriotic windmill.Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

Archana said...

Wow! That's wonderful as they get exposure to so many different crafts. This way the kids can identify what they like and what they have a flair for! Good job and all the very best! :-)