Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kindness in the World of Cycling

One of the reasons I love making upcycled pillows so much is the meaning behind the pieces used to create them. The stories always fascinate me, and I love that my customers are willing to share their history with me. The following story is one I really wanted to share with you as it shows the kindness of others in a difficult situation.

Harvey Laabs contacted me to create pillows out of some of his cycling shirts from the Bike: MS TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota), which he has taken part in for many years. He had purchased a new bike, which fell off during transit to the event. Harvey went back to find his bike, and it had been taken. The below Q&A with Harvey tells how his fellow riders demonstrated their kindness during a hard time!

How did you become interested in cycling?

I was in my 40's and started to think I needed to start becoming more active. My old Schwinn was hanging in the garage, so I took it down and started riding. At first it was only five miles, then ten and within a couple of years, it was up to fifty, or more. I upgraded the quality of my bicycle over the years as I started riding longer distances.

What inspires you to participate in the racing events?

While it is relaxing to be alone with my thoughts on a bicycle out on a country road, or on a bike path running through a forest; being with a group of like-minded folks adds to the enjoyment. Everybody has such a good time; I think it might have something to do with the fact that we kind of feel like we are kids again - riding our bikes all over the place.

(Kathy and Mike)

Why did you decide to have Memory Pillows made from your cycling shirts?

They are the perfect memory gift for my very favorite biking event - The Ride Across Minnesota. There were several cycling friends that gave me a lot of support last year (2016), and I wanted to let them know how much they are appreciated. (See my answer to the next question for details.) I also kept one of the pillows for myself as a unique reminder of TRAM.

What is your favorite moment from one of the races you've taken part in?

There are two favorites - both related to The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM). This is a 5-day, 300 mile bike ride that is a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is very inspirational to hear the stories of courage that people with MS tell. One night during TRAM, there is a speaker that has been affected by MS. These speakers either have MS themselves, or are family members of someone with MS. Hearing how their lives have been affected by this debilitating disease makes our lives seem easy. There are several people with MS that ride the route; they are truly inspirational!

Shortly after leaving for TRAM 2016 (at 5:15 AM), my bike fell off my bike rack as I entered the freeway. (I had forgotten to strap the bike to the carrier.) I searched the ditches for two hours, but someone had apparently stopped and picked it up. I was devastated, but decided to drive to the TRAM starting point in St. Joseph anyway; I had donations to turn in, and hoped to find a rental bike. At the check-in spot, my friend Mark and his wife and son were there; this was a complete surprise, because they live in Omaha. I had met Mark in 1991 on TRAM and had formed a close friendship. The three of them had come to TRAM to surprise me! Mark had two bikes with him. He lent me one to use for the week.

During the five days of the event, the story of my lost bike circulated among the hundreds of riders. On the last night of TRAM, my young friend Erin got up in front of the crowd and made an announcement. She told the crowd about my lost bike and went on to explain that she and her family members had walked through the campgrounds at night, asking for donations for me to replace my bicycle. This was the second surprise for me during the week. As she left the stage, she presented me with a large thick envelope filled with cash that the other riders had donated. When I got home and counted the money, I discovered that there was $1034 to help me buy a new bike!

The five of the six Memory Pillows that Emily made for me were wonderful thank you gifts for Mark, Erin and her family. I kept one for myself and distributed the other five to them. The day that Mark's pillow arrived in his mail box, he phoned me and we had a great talk about life, and the amazing generosity of people. He told me the pillow was the perfect gift. Erin and her friend Jack were also pleased to see the pillow. I gave them the other pillows to pass onto their family members. I look forward to seeing Erin, Jack and the rest of the family on TRAM 2017 and see, in person, their reaction to the pillows.

(Jack, Harvey, and Erin)

Have you learned some life lessons from participating in the events?

My short answer is that I have learned that there are a tremendous number of generous, kind people in the world. I've also learned that we are often able to do much more than we first think we can. I originally set my donation goal for TRAM 2016 at $1000. Shortly after that, I increased it to $2500 (in celebration of my 25th TRAM). By the time I left for TRAM, my friends and family had donated $3200!

Thank you for sharing your stories and photos, Harvey! Good luck riding in this year's TRAM!!

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Drop me a line at: taeamade@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Local Artists Unite

Collaborating with other artists is something that brings me so much joy. It lets me take my areas of expertise, and mesh them together with another person's ideas and talents. It always seems as though there's a little bit of magic that happens in the process. Something even better than what I had originally envisioned is usually what results during these opportunities! 

Last summer, I met with David Newman of The Village Family Services in Fargo to discuss how local artists could be more involved with their fundraiser, Wine & Dine. They wanted an idea to get the kids from their programs involved in a way that could contribute to their Silent Auction Art Room as well. Through our planning, we came up with the idea of teaching an art class to the kids while having them create pieces for the auction.

The next step was getting other local artists involved. That was the easy part! In Fargo, we're so blessed with a talented and vibrant art community. Chelsea Thorson of Make Room gladly let us use her studio to host the event. Lexie Rundquist of Aerow was happy to lend her talents of working with kids and art. Jessica Kraft, independent artist, quickly signed up to guide and teach with her expert skills. Kari Bloomquist of Washkish Made was so enthusiastic to lend her beautiful talents, and contribute in many ways! 

Kari Bloomquist

Lexie Rundquist

Jessica Kraft

Emily Brooks, Taea Made

David Newman

The kids met with us at Make Room early one weekday morning. They were so focused, and incredibly sweet. First, they created a watercolor on unstretched canvas to bring home. Then, they painted two pieces that would be used for the auction. 

The other artists and I put typography, and touch ups on the pieces to finish them off. We're so excited to have been able to make this project happen, and to have 16 pieces available for fundraising at the Wine & Dine event in February!

Thanks to The Village Family Services for providing 
resources to improve the lives of others in 
our community, and to the other artists 
that took part in this event for being 
so generous with their time and talents! It 
was a treat to be able to work on this project with you!

Catch the latest Taea Made happenings on Facebook!

Drop me a line at: taeamade@hotmail.com.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Taea Made at the MN State Fair

Having Taea Made handmade pieces at the Minnesota State Fair this year was definitely a highlight of my summer! When Lacey of Piccadilly Prairie asked if I’d make some items for her booth at the Fair, I was ecstatic. According to the MN State Fair website, over one million seven hundred seventy-nine thousand visitors attended this year. With high attendance like this every year, I couldn’t wait to have so many people see my products!

This summer I attended the MN State Fair for the first time, and it did not disappoint! There was so much to see, do, and eat. I especially enjoyed seeing the Piccadilly Prairie booth. Lacey did an amazing job of putting her whole booth together. Everything included in it flowed really well, and you could tell that she had spent a lot of time preparing her displays in advance.

 Here’s some insight from Lacey about her first year with Piccadilly Prairie at the MN State Fair:

What did you most enjoy about having a booth at the MN State Fair?

It was awesome to be a part of something that's known & loved by everyone in the Midwest!  It was amazing, while working the booth, how many people came by that I knew...for such a widely attended event, it has a real community feel.

How long did it take for you to prepare to have a booth at the Fair?

Well, surprisingly, I only found out in mid-June that we would be at the Fair!  And, I already had a trip planned to Europe for the month of July...  So, I had about 6 weeks over the summer to get ready!  Fortunately, I had a number of fantastic artists & makers -including you!- that contributed their lovely works, and that really helped with the preparation.

What focus did you have when you were curating the items to include in your booth?

I wanted to split the offerings into half vintage and half handmade items, so there was something for everyone.  I also wanted a heavy focus on Minnesota and midwest-themed items...so we had many handcrafted items with state shapes, as well as vintage souvenir collectables.

What should people who've never been to the MN State Fair be sure to see on their first visit?

My favorites are the West End Market (where we are) and the International Bazaar.  They have the best shopping & really great food!  I also love seeing a show at the Grandstand...there's nothing like sitting under the stars and listening to one of your favorite artists perform...

Do you have a favorite food on a stick from the Fair?

Of course!  It's the Buffalo Shrimp skewer at Cafe Caribe... And the not-on-a-stick favorite?  Minne-Apple-Pie (or Minne-Pumpkin-Pie), both delish!!

Do you have any unique experiences from the Fair to share?

This was my first year, so the whole experience was an experience!  I'm really looking forward to next year, when I can build on what I've learned and take our booth to the next level!!   

Thanks, Lacey, for asking Taea Made 
to be included in your booth at 
the MN State Fair!

You can shop Piccadilly Prairie at:

5014 Xerxes Ave S, Minneapolis, MN  55410

Monday - Saturday: 10am to 6pm

Sunday: 12pm - 6pm

Catch the latest Taea Made happenings on Facebook!

Drop me a line at: taeamade@hotmail.com.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wolftree Magazine Giveaway

I'm a huge fan of Wolftree Magazine! For those of you who aren't familiar with this wonderful publication, it's a magazine for makers, dreamers & adventurers. It celebrates everyday people doing extraordinary things with their lives. Each page is covered in beautiful photos, and inspiring words.

Taea Made has the privilege of doing a GIVEAWAY of both Volume 3 and Volume 4 of Wolftree Magazine!! That's a value of over $48! 

Don't miss out on your chance to win!


The fine print: This contest is open to U.S. residents 18 year of age, or older. Contest will run until August 9th, 2015 at 11:59pm CST. Winner will be selected by Rafflecopter. This contest is not associated with Facebook, or Instagram. Winner has to "Like" Wolftree and/or Taea Made's Facebook pages and/or Instagram pages in order to be qualified. Prizes are not available for cash value, and cannot be sold...but always make great gifts ;.)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Step Inside Piccadilly Prairie

Antiques and vintage finds will delight you at Piccadilly Prairie! Located on Xerxes Avenue in Minneapolis, MN, Piccadilly Prairie is the newest store where you can shop Taea Made. You’ll find many handmade items at this store including homemade jams, items made from vintage fabrics, and lots of unique jewelry pieces.
Lacey, the owner of Piccaddilly Prairie, is a delight to chat with. Her love of old mixed with new can be felt throughout the store. Step inside Piccadilly Prairie with me, and learn more about this vintage inspired shop.

When did your love of vintage begin?
I started falling for vintage & antiques as a teenager.  The first piece that stole my heart was an early 20th century trunk with a domed lid.  There's a picture of a woman on the inside, and it just fascinated me- who was she, who had the trunk belonged to, and what did it used to carry; as well as where was the trunk made, and who built it...  So much mystery in one old piece!  Twenty years later, I still have that trunk.

Tell us about the name of your store.

The name sprang into being after a lot of brainstorming and a little inspiration.  I'm a huge fan of alliteration, and I knew that I wanted a two-word name (like a first & last name).  The image I wanted to evoke was that of country-meets-city.  I settled on the word "prairie" first, thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder and Garrison Keillor.  "Piccadilly" popped into my mind, and I immediately knew that was it; London is one of my all-time favorite cities, and the two words fit together just right: Piccadilly Prairie

Where do you find the antiques for your store?

Ha, ha...the eternal question!  There's no easy answer to that one... The market is always changing, and we are always on the look-out, so pretty much anywhere & everywhere!

What are your design inspirations?

Honestly, I don't know how I (and a good percentage of the women out there) ever survived before Pinterest!  It's where I start when it's "back to the drawing board."  I also love to just stand outside and stare at nature.  There is nothing man-made or man-designed that compares to the simple beauty of, say, one tree.  The blend of colors, textures, and shapes...it's just awe-inspiring!

Do you have a favorite vintage piece?

Definitely my French iron bed frame.  The headboard and footboard are scroll-y with ornate detailing, and the paint is all but worn away, leaving a bare, aged patina.  LOVE!

What is your favorite thing(s) about running your own business?
I really enjoy being able to handpick pieces & artists, set them up in attractive vignettes, and share them with the world...or at least Minneapolis.  And I love being surrounded by pretty, old things...

Where do you find inspiration?
I have to have a pen and paper to think.  I use graph paper and sketch out my ideas, and that really helps me to determine whether or not certain things will work (like if that fantastic 6' awning I recently scored can be hung across this 4' doorway).  History has it that Michelangelo would stare at a piece of marble for days, sometimes months, before picking up a chisel.  I like to stare at a wall or a corner in the shop, when the customers have left and the door is locked, and think: what unexpected thing could I do in this space?  And I just stand there and stare, with my notebook in hand, until the pieces start arranging themselves before my eyes..
Thank you, Lacey, for sharing your love 
of items from the past!

You can shop Piccadilly Prairie at:

5014 Xerxes Ave S, Minneapolis, MN  55410

Monday - Saturday: 10am to 6pm

Sunday: 12pm - 6pm

Catch the latest Taea Made happenings on Facebook!

Drop me a line at: taeamade@hotmail.com.