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Friday, December 24, 2010

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans
Three more flying in on the right
We were greeted by nine Trumpeter Swans along a open channel at Vadnais Heights Regional Park, Sucker Creek yesterday. The "Groomer" set a wonderful set of tracks to Cross Country ski on. We were amazed that the Swans stayed through the winter, along with hundreds of ducks. It's a good thing to always have a camera handy, you never know what you will see around the corner.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

" Memories Become Treasures" During The Holiday Season

Sandy and Richard
My sister Sandy is the "Matriarch" of our family now that our parents and grandparents are deceased. She is the oldest, the wisest and assumes the huge responsibility of Grandma, Aunt, Mother, Sister and Wife. My father was a very sentimental man, a trait that Sandy has acquired in her life as well.  Several years back, Sandy and Richard created a "Memory" wall in their living room for Richard's father Orvin, our Grandma Kate, and our parents Earl and Marlene. Each "Memory" box is filled with wonderful "Things" that have lifetime memories. I always find myself standing and looking at these wonderful memories during our Christmas gatherings. I feel as if they're all here with us as we celebrate the holidays. Thanks "Big" Sis for keeping past memories always as a present reminder.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meet "Mona Rae Cich" A Very Intriguing Women

Mona Rae Cich

Mona Rae Cich is a very intriguing women, a designer, crafter and artist of handmade quilts and handmade collectible dolls.  For 35 years she lived in Duluth, Minnesota with her husband Ken and children. Mona Rae was a daycare provider, and received a distinguished award on April 3, 1989 as “Daycare Provider of The Year” in the State of Minnesota.  Mona Rae said; “Senator Rudy Boschwitz flew to Duluth and all of the TV stations were there when he presented it to me. “ With the words he spoke, I wanted to cry. I told the press that I was receiving this award with great honor, but it was for all of the great daycare   providers who are protecting and teaching the children who are our future. “I really do not believe that one person should be  awarded, there are so many that could have received that award every year.”
From  there, came a 6 part series on the local TV station in Duluth. She recalls , “They followed me around for 5 days, it was a bit stressful,  as I had 10 children I was taking care of”. It was inspirational for her in helping other daycare providers get their business off the ground and promote “Professionalism in their business”.  In addition to these accomplishments, she was an advocate for the safety of all children called the “Rules for Home Day Care” and spoke in front of State Legislature on behalf of all daycare providers, as the “Rules” needed to be updated.
 Back in 1981, Mona Rae awoke from a dream that changed her entire career path.  Her Great Grandmother was standing at the foot of her bed wearing a “Babushka” (scarf) on her head and said; “Mona Rae pick up a needle and thread and you will find your hidden talent, you have not yet discovered.” Her Great Grandmother died when Mona Rae was eight years old, and she was a quilter. Mona Rae remembers as a child sitting on her lap for hugs while her Great Grandmother worked from her large floor quilting frame.  She said; “The dreams kept coming  back”.  I purchased a Lee Wards magazine and found a cross stitch quilt kit as I felt she was guiding me.”  In 1982, Mona Rae purchased a tax ID license and followed her dreams, and established her business called “Hidden Talents.”  
Oh, but  her story does not end there.  Mona Rae had her quilts for sale at a gallery in Minneapolis, an inconspicuous woman made contact with her and wanted to purchase  one of her quilts for a “Local” movie being made in Minnesota.  They met, and she looked at all of Mona Rae’s creations, she said; ” I am sorry, but I don’t see what we need”.  Mona Rae had a” used” quilt that caught the designer’s eye. Mona Rae said;  “That one is not for sale and but they could borrow it for the movie”. The set designer                    immediately  turned to Mona Rae and said;  “ You have two women standing  next to you”. “One is a short woman that has her hand on the quilt and telling me that this is her quilt.” That is when Mona Rae broke down crying because she knew at that point her mother saw that her quilt was done.  The other woman was described as wearing a “Babushka” on her head.  It verified to Mona Rae that she had guidance by her angels. It was at the moment that Mona Rae said; “ I made that quilt in memory of my mother,  she was able to touch the center before her death, it was made with her favorite colors. I finished the border that contained a point for every month of her life”.
The movie turned out to be “Grumpy Old Men 2”, and the Mona Rae’s mothers memory quilt was featured in a ”Nanno” second  during the church scene.  That quilt had the same colors of Ann Margaret’s dress in the movie and Mona Rae proudly displays her quilt under her sign in their booth.
In 2005, Mona Rae and Ken moved to Ramsey, Minnesota to be closer to their grandchildren.  She thanks her husband of 43 years   as “ Ken has let her follow her dreams”. The “Team” travel to 24 crafting events each year.  When asked “Where do you draw your inspiration from”?  Mona Rae replies, “I keep a journal of my customers, their stories and the support from my family”.
In addition to the handmade quilts, her collectable dolls are “Unique”.  All of her dolls are inspired from her dreams. She will see flashings of colors, a design, or object .  Mona Rae says; “There is a story behind every doll, and the story continues after someone buys it”.  When at home in her studio, she works 15-16 hour days, she surrounds herself  with 969 bolts of fabric. The colors are  comforting and bring excitement and passion to her work. She only uses “Top of the line” fabric called “Moda”.  Her dolls come to life as she creates them with her hand’s, she even admits talking to them. They have names like Chilly, Nicholi and Forest. In fact, Forest is in his 4th color design edition, and one of the most popular, she has created and sold a 1,000 of him.  Mona Rae’s biggest event is at Canterbury Park in Shakopee Minnesota, held in November and April of each year. They feature 500 artists and crafters from 30 states.


My name is Forest
I am so cute up close
My booth is stroller and handicap accessable
Fall Friends
Quilts of all sizes
A family of Customers
Snowman quilt with stand
Here are some tips from Mona Rae on getting started:  Start by going out and doing a church craft show, and smaller shows. Climb the ladder, it teaches you how to find your price points, what sells, and what works. Surround yourself  with family and friends to help you along the way. Build a customer  base and you are building long lasting relationships.  Most important of all “ Don’t forget where you came from”. Facebook is a great social net working tool , create a website, start a blog, and continue to do shows. Mona Rae recently joined Etsy, and sold her first doll in a week.  For more on Mona Rae reach her at http://www.monaraeoriginals.com/

Happy Holiday's From Patty, Joe and Snoop

Happy Holidays, enjoy our Elf video

Saturday, December 4, 2010

You Are Never Too Old When It Comes To Inspiring People

My Godmother Phil Savage

Meet my Godmother Phil Savage, she lives in Hastings Minnesota and is now 84 years old. Phil, was the talk of the town when she painted a tree in her front yard and decorated it. She said "The neighbors probably thought I was losing it." But her "Rainbow Tree" brought so much attention that her local newspaper featured her in a article. We are blessed to have such an amazing women in our lives.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Handmade Quilts Touched with Love

graduation gift

The unfinished quilt suprise

I have never been a quilter, or mastered sewing, but boy could my mother sew. She made clothing for my sisters and I when we were kids, and even created outfits for our barbie dolls. When we were in high school she took up quilting. My Mom learned to quilt from reading books, and she convinced my Dad to help her cut the material for her. Believe it or not, my Dad began working side by side with Mom. When my twin sister and I turned 18 years old, Dad gave us each a quilt he hand stitched himself. Mine was a brown and white star burst and Pam's blue. My parents created quilts only during the winter months and gave them to their children and close friends. My father died eleven years ago, and the white log cabin quilt was half complete. Mom stopped making them after Dad passed. My sister Pam, took the unfinished quilt to a women for her to complete, my mom was so surprised. Mom passed away two and a half years ago, I have kept their quilts on a rack in my bedroom for years. Family heirlooms, keepsakes, gifts made with love. The holidays are a time for family, friends and remembering our loved ones. Receiving a gift that someone made with their hands is the greatest gift of all. I encourage everyone this holiday season to make, create, and give a gift  made with love. Happy Holidays, Patty