Thursday, December 13, 2018

Something Legendary

In almost every culture, dating back to biblical times, the raven - a large, intelligent bird completely covered in black feathers - has earned a legendary reputation as trickster, provider, secret-keeper, and conspirator.

In scripture, the raven is said to have been the first bird Noah sent from the ark to look for land. In Norse mythology, Odin had two ravens that would serve as his eyes and ears and report daily to the deity. In England, according to legend, the presence of ravens in London, particularly at the Tower of London, ensured that the British empire was secure.

For indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, the raven is revered as a trickster. In an ancient story, the Raven, originally with white feathers, stole the sun, moon, fresh water, and fire from Gray Eagle. While flying away with the firebrand, the ashes turned the raven's feathers black. 

I know you've heard me blabbing on about Your Nest Organizers before. But with less than two weeks until Christmas, I don't want you to miss an opportunity to polish off your gift list with a little something different.

Raven is one of the three newest colors of Your Nest Organizers, and perhaps, in my humble opinion, it's the most versatile.



Similar the trickster it's named for, the Raven Your Nest Organizer is a clever desktop organizer. Even though it was developed to hold your most-loved sewing tools, it's great in other environments as well - office, dormitory, kitchen, craft room, work bench.

Raven--black--goes with just about every decor; it's a hot decorator color, it's gender neutral, and it looks sharp! It can be collegiate (Did you see the Army / Navy game last weekend? Yay, Army Black Knights!). It's just a cool little gadget that keeps your stuff handy.




My favorite feature is the scoop placed diagonally across one corner. A rotary cutter fits perfectly in there, but that's also a perfect resting place for a cell phone! 

And it's the perfect size for a stocking stuffer.

Plus it's in stock - all seven colors - including Raven. And it'll be there in time for the holiday, but only if you order soon.

Happy Stitching!
Joan

Thursday, December 6, 2018

A Belated Wedding Gift

Back in September, just before we left for our vacation to Europe, Dave and I attended his second cousin's wedding. I purchased this adorable kit from Little Beach Hut in England. and it arrived only a few days before the wedding. The couple have a pet hedgehog named Pickle, so this sweet little cross stitch was perfect.



I knew that there was no way that I would get the project done in time for the wedding, but I began stitching anyway.

The surface area of the stitching is only about 4" in diameter.

Then travel happened, first for vacation, then to Houston for the quilt shows.



Well, I'm happy to say that I finally finished this little project! I purchased a wooden embroidery hoop at the local craft store, grabbed some felted wool and perle cotton and got busy. Basically, I followed this tutorial to secure and cover the back of the stitchery.




Add a little ribbon for hanging and. . .Ta done!



I was motivated get my act together to finish this little project because another of Dave's cousins had a baby shower this past weekend (different cousin), and I knew the newlywed cousin would be in attendance. . .

The stitchery has now reached its destination.

Now, for that unfinished baby quilt that didn't quite make it to the shower. . .

Happy Stitching!
Joan

Thursday, November 29, 2018

'Normal' . . . What 'Normal?'

I came back home from Quilt Festival in Houston to a whirlwind of activity. I'm still not quite done unpacking, and there is a stack of paperwork about a mile high (well, almost a mile high) on my desk that needs to be accounted for, sorted, and dealt with.
I'm doing my best to find normal again. And boom here come the holidays! Can you relate?




As an exhibitor, if you're running the booth solo, like I was, you really don't get out much. These lovely flowers were just outside my hotel. Snapped this photo on the way to get groceries. This show stuff isn't all glitter and rainbows. . . there are flowers, instead!


On the show floor, you have to rely on the fun stuff coming to you. And it did.

Stopping my my booth, these quilters wore their sense of humor on their sleeves . . . or should I say on their T-shirts!





Oh my goodness! The details in these dresses! Each day of Quilt Festival this threesome wore something different and just as intricate! Just stunning and remarkable! My quilts feel so plain, now!



I did manage to venture out a little from time to time - I mean you have to walk past other booths to get in and get out and manage biological needs.

This gigantic sewing machine in the BERNINA booth made me feel like a character from Jonathan Swift!



It was grand to see that I wasn't the only one with Your Nest Organizers on my mind! My neighbors one aisle over from me at Cactus Queen Quilt Company also had a big display of Your Nest Organizers.

They seemed to disappear from their booth as well as from mine! Just can't get enough of them!




I usually like to include a few pictures of quilts from the quilt show, and there were some stunning quilts on display - or so I heard. I set aside one morning to wander through the quilt displays. However only one or two steps into the display area, I felt a stomach-churning crunch in my mouth! Out of the blue, one of my lower front teeth chipped, leaving a very rough hole in my tooth, and I suddenly lost my enthusiasm for quilt-peeking.

Fortunately, the chip wasn't deep enough to cause pain and was easily fixed once I returned home. So at least, my tooth is back to normal. The rest of my crazy schedule may take a little longer to settle back down!

Now, where did I pack away those tree decorations and wrapping paper?

Happy Stitching!
Joan


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Little Late . . .Or A Little Early

Nope, you don't have to check your calendar. It's Wednesday. I returned home from Quilt Festival on Wednesday last week, with not enough umph to put together a post for the normal Thursday morning time line. And with Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd send along a little note and a preview of something pretty exciting that starts this Friday!

First and foremost, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your support of my business. It has been an amazing year here on the Hummingbird Highway with lots of new things happening and lots of fun things yet to come. I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have!

Secondly, As you may have heard, I was in Houston for a good 10 days starting around the first of November. I was an exhibitor at Quilt Market (wholesale show) and Quilt Festival (the 'everybody' show) in Houston, Texas. My focus for these two events was sharing and selling Your Nest Organizers and The FLOCK.

It all went very, very well, but I came home with a few Your Nest Organizers that I really don't want to send back to the warehouse.

If you've been around a while, then you know, I've done this before. So, yes, it's time to have a little fun! At a perfect time to have some fun - it's gift-giving season . . . with a thankful twist.



It's a Black-Friday-Small-Biz-Saturday-Cyber-Monday Special!

What: Free shipping on Your Nest Organizers from Hummingbird Highway.

When: Black Friday (November 23, 2018) through Cyber Monday (November 26, 2018).

Why? The main reason: I have a few leftovers from the show in Houston, and I'd rather send them to you than ship them back to the warehouse!

PLUS! Seems like a perfect opportunity to give thanks and give back. 10% of all Your Nest Organizer sales from this special event will be donated to Clear Path for Veterans - an amazing organization close to my heart that helps veterans with so many helpful programs, including job search, counseling, service animals.

Your Nest Organizer colors available for this special event: Flamingo (pink), Hummingbird (lime green), Bluebird (royal blue), Cardinal (red), and Raven (black). Quantities are limited for this free shipping special.

Wait! I already have Your Nest Organizer . . .

No doubt! Then you know how well they Keep Stuff Handy in your sewing studio! But did you also know that they are great organizers in the office and dormitory? Park your mobile phone in the scoop that was created for the rotary cutter, add stamps, envelopes, your favorite pens and pencils to the spike-y section . . .




. . . and you're ready to treat yourself! . . . Great gift for college dorms or children's crafts. . . Stocking stuffers, too! I could go on and on.

Jus' sayn, might be time for another.

Are you an early bird?

As a Hummingbird Highway follower, you can get a head start! Click on the button below to get started - only this link will give you access to free shipping.

https://hummingbird-highway.com/patterns-and-notions/your-nest-organizer-holiday/

Happy Stitching! Happy Thanksgiving!

Joan

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Hitting the Road. . Again

Next week, I'm headed to Houston by car for Quilt Market and Quilt Festival.

Seems like I'm barely getting reacquainted with my sewing room and I'm off again.

This time, the travel is work-related, but it's still be a lot of fun!

I'm driving from Syracuse, New York, all the way to Houston (a total of about 22 hours in the car). Feels like I have a little more flexibility to pack up the car with booth decor and product (mostly Your Nest Organizers and The FLOCK stuff) that if I shipped all that stuff.

Now some may think that's crazy, but I kinda look forward to that time in the car. I'll catch up on some podcasts (Radiolab is one of my favorites and I'm a few episodes behind). Maybe listen to some audio books. I'm in the middle of a history book (inspired by my recent European vacation), and maybe I'll finally start The Outlander series - I picked it up once, but it didn't grab me so I want to give it another try. We'll see if the second time is the charm.

Once I arrive in Houston, there's all the booth set up and reconnecting with old friends and meeting new friends. It's fun, even though it's a lot of work!

You know what I don't look forward to? . . . packing the car!

Tomorrow, I'm making a round-trip run to the manufacturer of Your Nest Organizers in the Albany, NY area. That'll be the first load.

Once I get home, I've got a pile of stuff for the booth that needs to fit in between the bigger boxes full of Your Nest's . . .




Even though Dave actually helps to pack the car - and he's very good at it - I get very anxious as the pile of stuff that 'has' to go gets bigger and bigger. It always seems to get in the car, but I'm never quite sure how.

Because Dave isn't coming with me to Houston, I won't have my car packer with me for the return trip. So there's only one thing that has to happen - I have to re-distribute everything I bring with me to lots of happy customers. So do me a *big* favor - if you're going to the show - either Quilt Market or Festival - come see me! I'll be in booth 1153 for the both events. And help me spread the love! Tell all your friends, too!

Chat Books

Speaking of happy customers, I just have to share this one thing I found - I actually didn't find it, it found me!

You know how you come back from a holiday or vacation and you want to share your pictures with friends, and you spend tons of time scrolling your phone with your fingers while you're trying to describe something that you know you have the perfect photo to fit what you're trying to express, but you can't find it? Hate that!

The other day, I was toodle-ing around on Instagram and an ad popped up for Chat Books (I am not affiliated with this company in any way), but I just had to share how cool this little app is!

I downloaded the app onto my phone. Selected pictures from my vacation - about 100 of them - spent maybe 15 minutes arranging them in order and choosing a cover shot. Then I selected the size of the book and checked out with my credit card. In about a week, a book full of pictures - my pictures - beautifully presented in a bound paperback book (I could have chosen hard cover) arrived in the mail.

I had not heard of this particular app before (have I been living under a rock?) but for a grand total of $25 or $30, and only about 30 minutes of my time, what did I have to lose?




This was a perfect way to capture some of the highlights of my vacation, but imagine the possibilities. Keep an annual picture-record of your quilty works-in-progress and finished items. Capture all of the fun with the kids and grand kids from season to season.

The only minor set back I saw was not being able to add captions to the photos - but I know if I had that option, this would never have gotten done. And I can always go in with a permanent marker and make notes on the pages or add stickers with comments, but I doubt that I will. It doesn't need it!

Anyway, just thought I'd share. 

Happy Stitching!
Joan


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Proud to be. . .

Two weeks ago, I discussed the highlights of our recent vacation to Eastern Europe. Dave and I decide on vacation destinations a little differently than some. We enjoy getting to know the place we're visiting--in particular its history. When we started planning this 'epic' vacation about two years ago, it was important that this be a trip about "learning," not just about "seeing the sights."

There are several tour organizations that offer similar trips, but what made us select Smithsonian Journeys was the education factor. We had a highly-qualified history expert along with us on the entire trip. (A little more on that in a bit.)

Since we've been back, some friends have asked, 'What impressed you most?' So I thought my answer might be of interest to you as well.

National Pride

Over and over again, we simply could not avoid the topic of overwhelmingly strong national and cultural pride - and the attempts to undermine it - every single place we visited.

Frederic Chopin, born in Warsaw, Poland is something of a national hero there.




Here is a video clip of one of Chopin's famous Polonaise compositions, performed by a very young Liberace.

Chopin left his beloved Poland in exile to live in France. He died of tuberculosis at 39 and was buried in France, but his heart was returned to Poland where it remains. This statue and this park in Warsaw is dedicated to him. During WWII, the statue was destroyed, then years later after the war, it was rebuilt. It is said to have been destroyed to inflict a spiritual blow on the German-occupied Polish people.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, opened in 1940, in a suburb of Oswiecim, Poland (Auschwitz is a German-ized version of the town name) is a sobering monument to Hitler's plan to eliminate the Jewish people and their culture from existence.

Not much more to be said here. However, the failed, but monumental Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 is a tribute to the Jewish resistance in occupied Poland.




In 1918, Poland was reunified after 130 years of non-existence as a country. Five generations of Polish people never lost hope that their country would be re-unified.

After WWII in 1945, Communism was imposed. The Palace of Culture and Science was a 'gift' to the Polish people from the Soviets. It's a source of disdain for many Polish people today as a symbol of the universally-disliked Communist regime. 




While in Warsaw, we enjoyed traditional Polish food at Radio Cafe just a few blocks away from our hotel. The restaurant owner, whose name, I'm sorry that I can't now remember, came out and spoke to our group.

Back in the day (post WWII), this restaurant catered to the staff of Radio Free Europe. Listening to RFE was completely taboo, but became a valued source of information from the free world.




The positive impact from the fall of Communism in all the places we visited on this trip became a recurring theme. All of our city tour guides mentioned it, and shared their experiences of what that meant to their lives.

Solidarity in 1980 made Poland the first to leave Communism behind, the remaining nations followed one by one.

This star on display inside the Parliament Building in Budapest topped the Parliament dome during Communist times. Now it's a museum piece, inside. People don't want to forget.




In each new location on the trip, as I mentioned earlier, we had a local city guide who provided historical information and personal experiences.

Our local city guide in Budapest (what a view behind her, eh?) gave us excellent perspectives on being Hungarian.




Medieval History

Here in the US, our earliest heroes lived a couple hundred years ago. In Eastern Europe, history and important historical figures go way, wa-a-a-y back.

St Stephen (Szent Istvan) was the first king of Hungary in the 10th Century (a good 800 years before George Washington took the reigns of the Continental Army.) He is still one of the most revered historical figures for the Hungarian people.

Unfortunately, Hungary made some bad choices in their alliances during WWI and WWII. And the country has paid the price. Today, Hungary is a member of the European Union (EU), and they benefit from their membership. Interestingly, they have not adopted the use of the Euro. Nor has Poland. Nor has the Czech Republic. One might speculate that, for each of these countries, even their money represents a sense of national pride - with images of centuries-old national heroes imprinted on each denomination.

For the Czech Republic, the Munich Pact in September 1938 gave Germany the right to invade Czech Territory. Big problem: dignitaries from the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) were left out of the negotiations while diplomats from Germany, France, Britain, and Italy discussed Czehoslovakia's fate. To this day, the Czech people refer to that agreement with bitterness as o nás bez nás (about us without us).

In Germany, a section of The Wall, once separating democratic West Berlin from Communist East Germany remains as a monument to the re-unification. The footprint of the entire wall is embedded in the street pavement.






All this learning, and no fun?

Well, not exactly. Even though our assigned educator, Christopher Brennan, PhD provided extensive historical information in formal lecture settings, he provided plenty of distraction from the historical data-dump, too! Here he is with one of many ever-changing maps of Eastern Europe.



And he proves that the Wieliczka Salt Mines (near Krakow, Poland) are indeed composed of salt, by taking a lick. He also kept us entertained, not only with his vast knowledge of the subject matter, but also with his dry, British sense of humor! His local knowledge as a resident of Vienna, led us to excellent eats (and brews)!



And our lovely, fabulous tour director, Silvija from Latvia, not only kept our group in check, but provided tons of stories from her own experiences growing up under Communism in Latvia.

She is a real gem!



And if you really want to get a feel for national pride among the Eastern European nations, open a conversation about which country has the best strudel!

This is perhaps, the most important lesson I learned on the trip: when presented with two dessert options, one being strudel, no matter which country you're in and what the other choice is, get the strudel - each strudel is the BEST! (below is the Hungarian version!)




And yes, that rivalry is real. I can go on and on with various examples of the deep national pride we observed and experienced. But I've probably already bored you to tears with all this!

Back to the sewing machine!

Happy Stitching!

Joan

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Something New, Something Blue!

Okay, maybe you've heard me mention this little gadget called Your Nest® Organizer before?

(Yes, that's a little circled R meaning that the trademark registration is complete - a long, legal process.)

I introduced Your Nest way back at the beginning of the year to hold all your favorite quilting gadgets. By now, perhaps you've seen it at your local quilt shop. Even better, perhaps you're putting it to good use in your craft room.




Your Nest Organizers are available in four fun, bird-friendly colors: Martin (purple), Flamingo (pink), Hummingbird (green), and Peacock (teal blue).


 . . And, there's more!


This summer, I started playing with some new colors and I'm happy to announce that three new colors have joined the Your Nest Organizer family. Shall we meet the new birds?

Bluebird (YN105) - is the first of the new colors. Medium true blue will brighten your storage options.



Cardinal (YN106) - As red as a cardinal in a pine tree in winter. Bright and cheery and aways ready to store away your goodies.



Raven (YN107) - This clever bird is at your service, keeping your stuff handy! Black is back as a hot decorator color, and it goes with everything!



So, there you have it! Three new fun colors of Your Nest Organizers.



Now, what? (Yep, they're available right now, right here!)

 - Add to your collection!
 - Start your holiday shopping with some fun stocking stuffers!
 - Give your collegiate co-ed something practical to keep the dorm tidy!

Collect all seven colors . . . and Keep Your Stuff Handy!



(I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited!)


Next week . . how many different kinds of strudel can a person eat while on vacation?

Happy Stitching!

Joan