Archive for Travels

Just returned from China!

RandMeTemple-250Randy & I have just returned from Randy’s “dream trip”. 

We went to China! Honestly, I’d never wanted to go, but having run out of valid excuses, he convinced me that this was a “window of opportunity” not to be missed (i.e., everyone is healthy, including us, knock wood, and we have capable people to take care of our businesses).

The tour organizers (Kansans who once lived in China and have led 23 other trips back) sent us a reading list in preparation, and I was hooked! I absolutely loved every moment of our trip! Even the bus trip in the fog up the mountain with 396 hair-pin turns! (I am not exaggerating!)

We landed in Beijing, sort of equivalent to NYC, with the population nearly 4 x more dense!  



Our first full day of touring included climbing a section of the Great Wall. What a blast! Had my picture taken with our excellent local guide, Jason. Notice I’m wearing my Charlotte’s Sew Natural shop shirt! :)





It is quite a hike!  You gotta wonder how in the world it managed to get constructed! 

In some places it is quite steep, i.e. gravity really played a factor.

I am as high on the Great Wall as I am going to go!  Notice my Wizard of Oz tote.  I was wishing for some magic shoes to get me down about now!  LOL


I am as high on the Great Wall as I am going to go! Notice my Wizard of Oz tote. I was wishing for some magic shoes to get me down about now! LOL










China is just about the size of the continental US, and we got as far west as Yunnan province (like getting to Utah?), near the Himalayan Mountains, then made many other stops including a cruise on the Yangtze River, and flew home from Shanghai in the south-east of China.  

 Since our flight out of Chicago headed east and north, flying over Greenland and Russia en-route, and our flight out of Shanghai flew west to San Francisco, we actually flew around the world! How cool was that?!

SilkEmbrTchr-250We visited a silk embroidery “school & factory”, but the beautiful pictures were being produced as a commodity, not a leisure-time craft. The teacher & I had a great visit. Her English was very good, and we both talk with our hands! LOL

The silk embroidered pictures are available for sale everywhere.  We mostly ran into Chinese tourists, and they seemed really interested in purchasing the embroidery.  I wonder, with the emegence of the middle-class, whether women will start doing patchwork quilting and embroidery just for “fun”?SilkEmbrder-250


















Our group visited a “silk factory”, where we learned how they get the silk from the cocoons, and I had the opportunity to “pull” a stack of 64 cocoons to add to a silk duvet in progress. It was very DIFFICULT! The white sleeved arm is reaching in to try to salvage the tourists’ attempt! LOL










We had wonderful food everywhere.  We were cautioned that our stomachs wouldn’t handle the “local food”, or “street food”, until we’d been in China for a few weeks.  So we avoided it.  But there were so many food vendors and tiny restaurants.  It was curious to see how they make do in some places!



















The markets were so interesting.  I never saw a shopping cart with wheels, unless you count a motor bike or bicycle.  Many people wore basket back-packs.  These were made of reeds or plastic!










I read somewhere that 95% of all the world’s socks are made in one town in China.  So my goal was to buy some socks.  It didn’t take long to find a street vendor.  All the socks had a simple sticker on them that said “Welcome to chosse [sic] and buy the socks.”









We took a lot of pictures of amusing signs!  Here is one of our (the ladies in the group) favorites.

StampOnToilet-250You might wonder what this means.  Well, “western style” toilets are in short supply in the public restrooms.  The “norm” is called a “squat pot”, and is flush with the floor.  The traditional Chinese don’t care for our western versions.  Sign or no signs, I have to say, I never saw a porcelain pot or even a seat on a western style toilet that didn’t have foot prints on it!  LOL

One of the most memorable meals was served in a traditional home in a “Hutong”.  That is the old, traditional neighborhood of 2-story homes built around courtyards, with tiny alley ways and communal bathrooms. 

Our hostess was so gracious to invite us into her home so we could see how real people live.  Most city dwellers actually live in high-rise buildings, and only some Hutong have been designated as protected areas.  We got an old fashioned ride.  So how some have new transportation to suit their neighborhood.  Got a glimpse of one family’s home and had a great lunch!  She had added a “western style” restroom to her home. :)





















Our hostess is preparing the food in a space “tiny” by our standards.  She loved her pet fish.  They all have names.  :)






Our group had to sit in two rooms.  Both small, but each had a flat-screen tv!

One of the most interesting things about China was the old and new overlap!


We had such an interesting trip.  The more I write, the more I remember.  I’ll write more later!

Thanks for listening!







Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

I love ART MUSEUMS!  So, I was very excited to get to visit the newest one in the region, Crystal Bridges in Bentonville Arkansas

There is so much inspiration to be found from other artists, no matter their medium!

Here were a few of my favorites of that day!

Devorah Sperber started with spools of thread, lots of them!

Her piece requires a viewing lens, and here’s what you get! Delightful!

American Gothic 2

Here were a couple of other great ones!  I think I was interested in portraits of women this day. 

John Singer Sargent – Mary Chamberlain

Norman Rockwell – Rosie The Riveter

Will Barnet – Woman Reading (me every night, only my cat is black!)

And my Lily! :)

Then there was this!  Really weird!

Evan Penny – Old Self: Portrait of the Artist as He Will (Not) Be. Variation #2

It was funny that there were no barriers around any of the artwork.  A kindly guard asks you in the beginning to stay back from the artwork.  But there was no way any of these guys were getting any closer!  hahahah!

We had a great trip and I recommend you check it out if you ever get to Northwest Arkansas!  Thank you Alice Walton! 


Small Business Saturday Spent at Walmart Headquarters

It was with great irony Lily & I realized that on Small Business Saturday we were in the “mother ship” of the big-box “virus” that has single-handedly meant the demise of so many Small Businesses and Main Streets across America.  And on the very day that all were being encouraged to support small businesses for at least one day, I found myself visiting the physical center of this global phenom!  Hmmmmm. . . how did this happen?  At least I wasn’t buying anything.  Call it Research & Development!  LOL

The day before I’d done what I always do: sought out the local quilt shop!  And spent my money there!

Lily, Francis, Randy & I took a quick trip to NW Arkansas so that R & F could attend the Arkansas/LSU football game Friday afternoon. 

Lily & I had a great time in Historic Downtown Rogers, where we met Mary & her mother Clarice who run a combination quilt shop/yarn shop in a charming historic building.  The Rabbit’s Lair is a great shop if you are ever in the area.  We really liked their new BOM which you can see on their web site.  I bought some laminated Jo Morton fabric to re-cover a couple of folding chair seats.  Mary quipped, “Don’t you have any fabric in YOUR shop?!”

They have an especially nice selection of wool & wool kits.  (I bought one of those too.)  Mary kept stitching the whole time we were visiting.  Talk about valuable, friendly, “R & D”.  We really had a great time sharing ideas & comparing notes.  She was using a product that I’ve never used, didn’t recognize, and after questioning, I realized that I do sell it!  LOL  Next project!

On Saturday morning we decided to venture into Historic Downtown Bentonville.  We visited the Walmart Museum, drove past the Home Office buildings, which are very, very ordinary (homely)!  Then we went to Crystal Bridges, Museum of American Art.  It is a wonderful treat!  It is worth a trip to Bentonville.

The Museum, founded in 2005 by Alice Walton, takes its name from nearby Crystal Spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building design by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two creek-fed ponds house galleries, a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall, restaurant and more.  After we viewed the galleries, we walked the Art Trail outside, and then hiked the Tulip Trail back to the parking lot.  Beautiful setting!  Great collection of art.  What a great day!

Meanwhile, I have to thank my fantastic staff who manned both stores so I could do this family get-away & all our great customers who always support SMALL BUSINESSES, and Small Business Saturday too!  I know you appreciate that we offer top quality products, great variety, fair prices and the voice of experience every day. 

And you seemed to enjoy scooping up more than a few fat quarters at bargain prices.  Thanks again for your continued support.  :)