Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hobbies that Begin with "Q" - 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.


There are two hobbies that begin with the letter "Q" that Sophia and Olivia have explored: quilling and quilting.


In February 2008 for Valentine's Day, we photocopies our hands and then made different quilled shapes using red and pink paper. Below is Olivia's hand. She had just turned five years old.

Sophia was seven years old.

We still have these photocopied hands with quilling on them, and pull them out to display at Valentine's Day. It would be interesting to do this same project again now that they are older, and see how their hands have changed from when they were young.


Quilting has been a significant hobby for us throughout the years. When Sophia was 7 years old, she made her first quilt and entered it in the county fair. She was competing against youth who were 7-16 years old, and won third prize.

July 31, 2008

The following year, Olivia wanted to make a quilt. So, at 6 years old, she began her quilt.

July 22, 2009

Sophia was making a quilt at the same time.

July 22, 2009

They needed to take turns at the sewing machine which was a bit challenging since both of them had twin-size bed quilts.

July 23, 2009

Olivia used fabric that she bought in Pella, Iowa, when the girls and I traveled with my parents there to see the tulip festival. So, the quilt has special memories attached to it.

July 27, 2009

Sophia's quilt, like Olivia's quilt, went on their beds and were their comforters for a long time.

July 27, 2009

One thing that Olivia wanted to make was a small circular quilt similar in design to one we found on Flickr (the place to go to for ideas before Pinterest). This was difficult because there was no pattern.

So, it was a good lesson on creating a pattern and hoping it turned out like it was being envisioned.

June 6, 2010

During the 2010-11 homeschool year, Sophia took a sewing/quilting class at the homeschool co-op. She learned how to make six different patterns. She sewed them together to create a quilting sampler.

June 10, 2011

A large quilt that Olivia made was a horse-theme one. The center had an embroidered image of horses and the rest of the quilt was a patchwork - some with horse-printed fabric.

July 4, 2012

She tied this quilt - just like she saw my mom do with the Angel Quilters - a group of women at her church who made quilts for people who were homeless, a victim of natural disaster, or who was going through a domestic violence situation.

July 5, 2012

Olivia entered her horse quilt in the county fair. A teenager offered to hold it up (on the left side) and Olivia was holding it up on the right side (she's standing up behind the table so only her shoulders and head are showing).

July 11, 2012

The girls also made paper quilts one year. They were learning about math and symmetry.

April 16, 2013

It was something different to do in terms of designing one's own quilt block.

April 16, 2013

Also in 2013, when she was 12 years old, Sophia created a table runner. She was comfortably using a rotary cutter and cutting mat by this point.

July 15, 2013

By cutting the nine-block squares, a new pattern was created which looked more complicated with all the smaller pieces.

July 15, 2013

In 2015, Olivia undertook a major project - creating the Washington County Barn Quilt Trail. The designs were based on the book The Quiltmaker's Gift - a favorite book of the girls when they were growing up.

Each of the designs for the 8'x8', 7'x7', 4'x4', and 2'x2' barn quilts were sketched out and colored on graph paper.

May 21, 2015

Olivia took the designs to Sherwin Williams to pick out paint that most closely matched the colors she used for the drawings.

May 21, 2015

The first barn quilt that was completed was installed on a two-story barn at Gammelgarden Museum. It weighed over 100 pounds and huge 6-inch lag bolts hold it in place. In late May, a few days after it was installed, my mom - Olivia's grandma - came to see the first barn quilt thanks to my nephew driving her to the museum.

May 28, 2015

Even though she was almost blind, she was able to see the big quilt. Being an avid quilter and sewer her entire life, she was so excited to see the barn quilt and know what the project that Olivia was working on looked like.

May 28, 2015

A couple days later, the second barn quilt was installed. This was a wrap-around design which worked perfectly with the design of the quilt.

May 30, 2015

Olivia's favorite design was Bear Paw which we installed on posts at the corner of our farm. She painted the barn quit herself - all 7'x7' of it! 

June 7, 2015

Sophia attended 4-H quilting camps for a couple of years during January. One year, she made a quilt top (which she later finished at home) using a variety of batik fabrics.

January 9, 2016

After doing the first round of barn quilts in 2015, Olivia designed ten more barn quilts in 2016. She involved more volunteers to help with the building, painting, and installation of them. For the second round, we were able to paint the barn quilts indoors because they were smaller (4'x4' or 2'x2'). 

July 3, 2016

While Olivia was working on the barn quilts, Sophia was working on an ambitious quilt that used about a dozen different colors and patterns of fabric that were cut on the diagonal. 

May 6, 2017

Once she sewed the top and backing, she brought it to a place that quilted the two layers and batting using a long-arm quilting machine. Sophia finished sewing the binding to the back of the quilt. It was a big project that took a couple months to complete.

July 21, 2017

The 4-H sewing committee wanted Sophia to show her quilt at the quilt and fashion show at the county fair. Above, she's describing the process she went through to create the quilt.

Both of the girls want to make a quilt this year and enter it in the county fair. It will be interesting to see what patterns and fabric they choose.

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