Pastimes: What Do You Enjoy?

sewingJane Eyre had her painting.  Marianne Dashwood played piano.  Often the heroines in our favorite romance books have interests other than finding husbands and running households.

The same is true for AAR staff members, who beside reading books and writing their considered opinions, are addicted to interesting sidelights. Some have pastimes based on what were once called the womanly arts, knitting, sewing, and the like, while others do activities unheard of by our ancestors.

Probably one of the oldest and most traditional pastimes is bookbinding which Rike enjoys. She says this “encompasses crafting and restoring actual books.” In addition, Rike creates boxes out of cardboard and colored or printed papers. She explains, “At the moment I am making individual treasure boxes for my nieces and nephews, a rather long-term project, but lots of fun.”

Leigh and Sandy also share a traditional pastime reminiscent of Medieval ladies in their solars: needlepoint. As Sandy says, “There is a something about the sense of accomplishment. I can sit down for an hour and I can look back at the area I just worked on and feel a real sense of purpose.”

Knitting is another traditional art practiced by Amy, LinnieGayl, and Jacqueline, even though Jacqueline jokes, “I literally have never finished a project except for an ill-fitting sweater for my Rhodesian ridgeback.”

Blythe and Jean emulate Victorian women by playing the piano. In fact, Jean plays often as an accompanist while Blythe adds singing, especially in a church choir, to her playing.

Also enjoying the arts practiced in the 1800s are Lea and Maggie who spend time in their gardens. Lea reports that she’s been “an avid gardener for 25 years and it never gets old.” Maggie is more interested in the flower arranging side of gardening, and says she still does wreaths for friends at Christmas.

Making items to sell or give as gifts is another pastime AAR reviewers enjoy. Dabney, for instance, make jewelry collections she sells at shows and is currently working on one called “Romance is in the Air” “where all the pieces have the names of real or imagined romance novels.” Cindy S loves “to hand sew gift bags” and “found out this year that one of my friends uses the gift bags I give her to put her gifts in, but makes everyone give her the bags back.” Pat H makes dollhouse miniatures, having completed a mystery bookstore in quarter inch to the full inch and is working on a New Orleans café and Japanese house at the moment as gifts to her family.

Heather S, a former dance instructor who has competed at the professional level, takes the Regency and Victorian art to a new level although she has retired from the professional end these days. As she says, “Now I just do it for fun.”

And Lee rings in with a completely modern pastime – photography. She explains that she makes “calendars using my photos for friends and co-workers as Christmas presents and sometimes make cards too.”

So while we’re not reading books to review, this is where you can find us, doing what we love.

Other than reading, what are your hobbies or pastimes?  Thank you for sharing!

-Pat Henshaw

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21 Responses to Pastimes: What Do You Enjoy?

  1. Stephanie says:

    My family laughs when I admit to others that I would rather read than eat. Reading has always been my first choice in hobby but it now stands in a line with cooking, quilting, and handcrafts. It is easy to listen to a book on tape while my fingers are busy. Best of both worlds.

  2. wenmc says:

    I love to scrapbook. I have three small children that I enjoy capturing their “lives” with my photos arranged to tell a story. I have also been known to knit a sweater, cross-stitch Christmas ornaments, anything crafty. Although on most days, after the kids are in bed and I’m tired, I usually just read.

  3. I’m a miniaturist. A few authors enjoy it, too, and I’ve had a few conversations with some authors that haven’t included books at all!
    Check my website, and you can see what I mean. My original website, before I was published was “Look at my dollhouses – and oh, yes, I write a bit, too.” Now it’s the other way about, and sadly, I don’t have as much time for pursuing it as I’d like. I have three big houses (a Tudor, a Georgian and a seaside house, all allsorts houses) and the usual collection of roomboxes and scenes that miniaturists tend to do as special projects, either to try out a technique or to show off a collection.
    Maybe it’s the creating different worlds aspect of it! I’m told that making them is still creative, but uses a different part of the brain. So that’s okay then!

  4. Susan says:

    I knit quite a lot. Working on a sweater now.

    I’ve tried tons of other crafts as well, since I used to be in the SCA, so I can weave, spin, embroider, quilt, applique, sew, do calligraphy, illumination, and pottery. Oh and I’m a dab hand at photography as well.

    I’ve had a lot of years to dabble in all these crafts. I love to make things.

  5. elainec says:

    I’m a gardener and an avid reader. I like to watch plants grow and take inordinate joy in the process. My husband quips that I’m happiest when I’m up to my elbows in dirt. I’ve never figured out how some women garden with an apron covering their clothes and by removing the apron, they’re ready to receive visitors. Katherine in “Dangerous in Diamonds” did just that in the opening scene at The Rarest Blooms. Not I. I need a bath and a session with a fingernail brush when I come in from gardening.

    I love to read. I read 2-3 books a week – mostly romances. I’m also listening to another on my iPod when I’m driving or doing some mundane chores around the house. Books are a wonderful and intriguing escape from the ordinary since I retired. I used to read non-fiction, mysteries, and classics before I became a woman of leisure, but now it’s 90% romance. Funny, before I retired the only romance I had read was “Pride and Prejudice”. Of course, I read it nearly every year since I was a teenager. :-)

    p.s. I wish I could knit, quilt, and do some of the other hobbies mentioned in this blog, but I just don’t seem to have the manual dexterity to do them. My hat is off to all of you who can!!!

  6. Jo-Ann W. says:

    Does shopping count? No? Okay, then I’m pretty crafty and I can knit, crochet, sew, etc. All the needlework there is. I’d love to be musical but I’m not. Same for gardening. I’ve recently discovered a need to cook, but my kitchen is so small, it’s very prohibitive!

    I don’t know if it’s a hobby, but I like to make money! I sell things. Books, jewelry, make-up, etc. Things from around the house and things I scavenge from friends, family, flea markets, etc. And then I can buy more books, jewelry, make-up, etc…

  7. Corinna says:

    I used to love to crochet, and have done baby christening gowns and bonnets in intricate cotton thread. It was a craft that was especially useful for keeping my hands and mind busy during a child’s illness in which he and I spent several weeks in the hospital. The repetitious movements are very calming.

    There aren’t enough hours in the day to crochet any more, though. I dabble at writing and painting and photography. Much of the painting and photography is cowboy- or rodeo-oriented, as my oldest son, who works as a horse wrangler, rides bulls and also works as a “cowboy protection agent”–commonly known as a rodeo clown, only without makeup–and I spend a lot of time shooting him. There’s no greater test of nerves than trying to hold a camera steady while your child is running from a bull, or on the back of one, believe me.

    Horses are probably my greatest passion, and I spend a lot of time riding, training, grooming, etc. For Mother’s Day this year, I got quite a surprise–my cowboying son presented me with a paint mare who just happens to be the half sister to the horse they used in the closeups in the movie Hidalgo, and she looks just like him. So my horse addiction continues to grow…

  8. Sandy C. says:

    I bet no one else shares my hobby. I’ve been seeing an 80s cover band for almost seven years now, at least once a week. Because the show is so visual, I stand at front row center. They put on a wonderful show; it’s a combination of great music and comedy. I never thought I’d become a groupie in my 40s! I know others who have been seeing them for five or six years as well, so it’s not just me. Everyone in the band has been doing this for about 20 years, so they’re extremely professional and very good at what they do. I don’t know what I’ll do when they stop performing, but for now I’m having a great time! (Did I mention that they pull me up on stage for my birthday every year?)

  9. Karenmc says:

    I read, then read some more (mainly historical romances). My other big hobby is genealogy. Been doing it for about ten years and have learned an incredible amount about English, Scottish and American history.

    In my younger years I played a lot of guitar and would get lost in right-brain world doing pencil drawings. Neither of those seem to interest me much any more, although I’ve never thought about why that is.

  10. Corinna says:

    Seeing Sandy C.’s post about faithfully following an 80s cover band has made me brave enough to mention what is likely my biggest hobby of all: the enjoyment of all things Bonanza. That’s right, I’m talking about the old Western tv show that ran from 1959 to 1973. Yep, I’m the geeky Western version of the Trekkie, I guess. Just can’t get enough of what is essentially America’s version of Camelot, full of tragedy and comedy. (And Little Joe Cartwright still flips my switch. ;) ) I’ve even (oh, the shame) attended a convention. Met Lorne Green’s son and Michael Landon’s wife and youngest son. Held Ben Cartwright’s revolver in my hand.

    It’s nice that there are still thousands of fans out there as obsessed as I am, ranging in age from 12 to 90. You’d be shocked at how much discussion is still being generated from that old show.

  11. Maria del Carmen says:

    I play the bagpipes and I started playing in a roller derby team. I blame romance for that last one. The heroine in a novel played it and when a friend of mine started a new league (I live in Argentina, roller Derby didn´t exist here) I was one of the few people who new about the sport. I really don´t have the “look”, people tell me I am to “happy and girly” for Derby. I´m one of the more aggressive blockers in my league :)

  12. RobinB says:

    Like Leigh and Sandy, I needlepoint when I’m not reading! My most recent finished project (I have quite a few unfinished ones, or UFO’s as our stitching circle refers to them!) is a pillow that I stitched for my cousin’s latest grandchild. I’ve learned to do quite a few different stitches, but sometimes it’s just stress-relieving to do the good old tent stitch!

    Knitting is something that my mother tried to teach me years ago, but it wasn’t successful because Mom was left-handed and I’m right-handed, so–let’s just say that she had better luck teaching me needlepoint!

  13. Carrie says:

    I don’t do any handcrafts. I read. That’s my hobby. I do enough yard work for the place not to look shabby, and I take long walks with the dog to keep healthy, and I take the dog to the dog park where I’ve met many new friends. I guess my main “hobby” in the past 20+ years has been researching, planning, and homeschooling my 5 children.

    Oh, wait! My husband bought me a ukelele for Christmas and my daughter’s mandolin teacher is giving me short lessons every couple of weeks to help me learn it. It’s fun.

    And Pat, did I miss it, or did you forget to tell us your hobbies?

  14. Sharon says:

    Aside from my job as a college English teaching and my life as a bookworm, I ride horses. Horses and books have been my passion since I was a small child, and they remain that today. When not working, I’m at the barn. Sometimes like yesterday (which was a beautiful day here in Portland, OR) I even take my horse out to graze and read at the same time. I ride western and English and am in a group dressage class too.

  15. xina says:

    Love shopping for shoes…no, seriously, I do. But that might be under addiction instead of hobby. :) Other things…I play the piano quite a bit. Mostly classical music. It relaxes me. I love to read. I’m just getting into photography with my daughter. We are shopping for a new camera tonight in fact. I used to sew quite a bit, but not so much anymore. I feel like I can just pick that up at any time. I love to garden too, but my large perennial garden is filled with weeds right now. It’s overwhelming, but very pretty at full bloom. Love to cook, not bake..cook. And I love my dogs and my cat. My pets are precious to me.

  16. Heather says:

    In addition to reading anything and everything I can (including the back of the cereal box and the instructions for the VCR), I am a gourmet cook and I do handmade rubber-stamped cards. My favorite part of cardmaking is coloring with various mediums on the stamped images.

  17. Cindy says:

    I’ve never thought of this as a pastime or hobby exactly, but I really enjoy volunteer work. I give many hours to the Friends of the Library – I’m on the committee that runs the bookstore and I do the newsletter – and Assistance League, which runs a thrift store and raises money to buy new school clothes for kids in need. One thing I like about these projects is I get to spend time working with my friends. Reading is my major hobby/pastime though. I get cranky when I’m too busy to read. Really. Everyone notices.

  18. RobinC says:

    Do babies count? I LOVE babies. I don’t have kids of my own and never wanted to after raising my (much) younger siblings and having custody of various nieces and nephews. My family and friends have given me babies, babies, and more babies for the past 21 years. My little brother and his wife just had twin boys 6 weeks ago.

    I love all “my” kids no matter what age, but babies are special. I volunteer in the nursery at church and rock babies at the hospital several times a week. I lead a babysitting workshop for teens and counsel at a pregnancy crisis center. Everyone knows they can call me up and I’ll come running to babysit. I also spend way too much money on baby items and clothing. I love shopping, fixing things up, and figuring out who I’ll give them to. Nobody looks at you strange for rolling around in the grass or singing nursery rhymes if you’ve got a toddler with you. LOL.

    All the fun and none of stress! Nothing fills my heart so full as holding a baby in my arms.

  19. AARPatH says:

    Carrie, I make miniatures. You can follow my blog (started at the urging of my younger daughter who kept asking, “How do you do this, mom?”) at . I don’t promise that I blog every day, but I try to keep my far-flung family in the mix as to how I’m keeping out of trouble. I’m currently working on a potting shed for my husband who has always wanted one.

  20. lauren says:

    Reading is escape for me, but I do indulge in a few things that also bring me joy! Gardening, especially herbs and hostas, my herb garden is for mostly culinary uses but I do have some lavender that this year I hope to harvest for sachets and such. I also knit, adding beads to my projects is something I love…but I have tendency to get tied up in a book and forget my knitting. My DH and I are avid car nutz and we travel to car shows with our collector cars…its great fun to see older cars and meet their owners, its quite fun to learn how people find and restore their treasures!

  21. Julie D says:

    I love to cook and try out recipes I see in the internet. Aside from reading, eating is one of life’s biggest pleasures in my opinion. My dream is to have an herb garden where I can get fresh ingredients for my recipes.

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