A month before my 30th birthday, I started feeling anxious about how I would spend such a milestone of a day. Despite my long history of disliking my birthday (cue ‘its my party and I’ll cry if I want to’), I wanted to focus on the truly great people I’ve been blessed enough to be surrounded with. Quickly, I found myself online booking a cabin in the woods for the weekend of my birthday. I wanted a place that I could retreat to with the people that make life so wonderful. I found a little place 45 minutes away, booked it and started inviting all my people.

As the weekend approached, I was packing up and feeling giddy that I got to spend my birthday this way. I started thinking about how I could create a visual reminder of the weekend and decided to put together a little collaborative art project for everyone to work on while we were at the cabin. The brainstorming began and I started thumbing through an old coloring book of famous artworks that I bought while I was in college. I found a piece I loved by a great folk artist named Grandma Moses and decided to do something with it. I’ve always been drawn to her work and she created most of her pieces late in life. There’s something so hopeful about that and I hope I can still be creating that long!

So, I enlarged the page and cut it up into thirty pieces. I took a stack of the pieces with me to the cabin with some art supplies and had the gals work on them while we chatted and ate (and ate and ate). The rest of the pieces I brought home with me and I stuck them in the mail to friends and family that couldn’t be there. Checking the mail became pretty exciting as the pieces started to return. Each piece had such personality. I’ve got some artistically talented friends who used beautiful drawing techniques and then I’ve got some who rolled their eyes at the thought of coloring and had to be begged to complete a piece. But each one turned out great.

I eagerly waited to assemble all the pieces until I got the very last one. The final product makes me a sentimental mess. It’s a quilted version of the people that make life good. I don’t deserve to have these thirty people along for the ride, but I’m so grateful for them and I’m hoping this artwork will help me remember that on a regular basis.

:: Liz ::

On March 22, 2016 in Wood County Oklahoma, a small fire began. Because of high winds and dry climate, that fire would spread into neighboring Kansas. Over 400,000 acres of land would be burnt, making this the largest fire in Kansas history and the 7th largest fire in the history of the United States. The widespread blaze soon became known as the Anderson Creek Wildfire.

 

 

Within a day and a half of the fire’s beginning, communication headquarters had been set up in Barber County’s largest community, Medicine Lodge. Here, volunteers from around the community and outsiders specializing in this type of crisis management worked around the clock to provide support to those fighting the fire in the Gyp Hills. Churches opened their doors to feed the volunteers and collect donations for those affected by the blaze.  

 

Locals and firefighters from all around fought side by side to put out the massive flames. After 14 hour days of fighting fires, those in the heat of the situation came back to Medicine Lodge and told stories about how the fire seemed to spread a mile a minute due to the high wind speeds. The rugged terrain of the area made the process seem hopeless at times while the firefighters watched the trees burn at the bottom of large canyons. Wall clouds of smoke could be seen up to 40 miles away as ash rained from the sky on all of the surrounding communities.  

 

The Kansas National Guard Blackhawks were brought to the area to dump 660 gallons of water at a time on the flames. As a member of the community, seeing the Blackhawks flying from the hills back to the lake gave us a boost of hope that our firefighters now had the resources they needed to get ahead of the flames. After 10 days of continuous burning, the fire was contained.

 

The people who live in the Midwest are known for their resilience and the citizens of Barber, Comanche and Wood Counties are no different. As the fire smolders in the vast canyons of the burnt sienna colored Gyp Hills, the citizens of the area are helping their neighbors to re-build fence, round up cattle and begin rebuilding the outbuildings lost to the fire. People and agricultural organizations from the surrounding area have blessed those affected with gifts ranging from hay donations and hedge posts to cleaning supplies and clothing.

 

Researchers are still debating what the long term effects of this fire will be. Livestock in the area were lost, and those that survived now suffer from smoke inhalation. Burnt udders are leaving calves under nourished without extra supplements provided by milk replacers and hay. The people of the area have lost thousands of miles of fencing, hay reserves, outbuildings and even homes, but they remain humble and positive for what is yet to come.  




Five of my all-time favorite podcast episodes/TED talks for a little motivation and inspiration. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! If you're stashing away your own favorites...send them my way in a comment!

How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries
We are all explorers. The people that made discoveries just thought a little bit harder about what they were looking at and they were a little bit more curious. And their curiosity changed the way people thought about the world and thus it changed the world. They changed the world. And so can you. - Adam Savage

Why should we look at the clouds more often
Paying attention to something outside yourself is just enough to find yourself centered again. - Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Listen, learn...then lead
Leaders can let you fail without letting you be a failure. - Stanley McChrystal

Why it's time to forget the pecking order at work
No idea is born fully formed. It emerges a little bit as a child is born. Kind of messy and confused but full of possibilities - Margaret Heffernan

The source of creativity
Fear and creativity are conjoined twins - Elizabeth Gilbert

:: Haley ::

Hiya folks! Today I am here to help show you how to make some fun little pennants out of our fabulous Tucker Prairie fabric. They are very simple and I have done my best to outline the steps for you below. Keep in mind that I am an amateur crafter, so if I can do it you can too!

Supplies:

-¼ inch dowel rods (I got mine at Michaels)

-rotary cutter

-Tucker Prairie fabric

-cutting mat

-pennant pattern of desirable size (I made mine out of some scrap paper)

-sewing machine

-pinking shears

 

For these particular pennants I am showing below, I did not have any fabric left of significant size to make my pennants the same fabric on both sides. I ended up using complementary fabric patterns in different colors to give the pennants a two-tone effect.  If this is not desirable, just make sure you use one large piece of fabric, folded. This will also allow you to skip to steps 3-5 below. 

 

  1. Place pennant pattern onto fabric square(s).
  2. Using rotary cutter on the cutting mat, cut along pennant pattern. 
  3. Once fabric is cut, you will need to stitch the two pieces of fabric together on the straight edge that will be next to the dowel rod. The fabric pieces should be right sides facing together.  You will want to make sure that you stitch as close to the edge as possible. Be sure to back-stitch some at the beginning and end so the stitches do not come out.  
  4. Once stitched together, cut off excess fabric as close to the stitching as possible without cutting the stitches. This will limit the amount of excess seam when you add the flag to the dowel rod.   
  5. Fold the fabric where the right sides are now facing out and line up the edges.
  6. Start with the needle on the sewing machine about a ¼ inch in. Continue sewing around the edge of the flag using the ¼ inch line on the sewing machine as a guide.  
  7. IMPORTANT: To make a turn, you will want to make sure that the needle stays in the fabric. Stop the needle at desired spot, with the needle in the fabric, and raise the foot.  Turn fabric and realign with guideline. Lower foot and continue sewing.  You will need to do this maneuver several times to accommodate all the points on the pennant.     
  8. Once finished stitching, you should have a ¼ inch stitch line around the entirety of the flag.  
  9. Using pinking shears, cut along the edge of the pennant, not cutting the stitching, at desired width.
  10. Insert dowel rod into the opening.
  11. Repeat above steps until you have desired number of pennants!

 

Happy stitching!
:: Kate ::

 

I spent 6 lovely years living in Nashville, and sometimes I miss it so much it hurts! I love all things Southern: literature, steeplechase, traditions, and of course: the food. Mostly the biscuits. The Loveless Cafe is on the western edge of Nashville, and it’s the home of my very favorite biscuits in the world. Since I’m living back in my home state of Missouri, I had to try to figure out the secret recipe. I think I’ve come pretty darn close with this from a copycat recipe I found on Pinterest.


Loveless Cafe Style Biscuits

Yield: About one half-sheet pan of biscuits. Quantity depends on the size of your cutter. You can halve this recipe if you want. It makes a ton!


1 (¼-ounce) packet active dry yeast

2 tablespoons lukewarm water (105º to 115ºf )

5 cups Southern soft-wheat self-rising flour*  

¼ cup sugar

1  ½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)

1/2 cup buttermilk powder (you can find this on Amazon)

2 cups water

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted


* If you can find Martha White, get that. If not, I just use regular self-rising flour and it’s fine.


Directions

Get all of your ingredients together. Get some hot water from your tap. Make sure it’s not TOO hot.

Dissolve the yeast in the water in a 4 cup measuring cup or similar sized bowl. After a few minutes it should be foamy. If it’s not, your yeast isn’t any good and you need to get some fresh yeast.  Stir together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the Crisco. Using a pastry cutter or just your fingers, crumble up the shortening until it’s in small pea sized chunks and coated with the dry ingredients.

Stir the buttermilk powder and water into the dissolved yeast. Stir into the flour mixture using a fork, just until moistened.

Grease a baking sheet with a little butter. Knead the dough lightly, about six turns. Do not overwork! It will make the biscuits tough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a ½-inch thickness. Stamp out biscuits with a 1 1/2-inch cutter. (Don’t twist the cutter  or the biscuits will rise taller on one side.) Gather, roll, and cut the scraps. Arrange the biscuits with sides touching on the prepared baking sheet - pack them in tightly. Cover with a damp lint-free towel. Let the biscuits rise in a warm place until they have doubled in bulk, at least 2 hours.  You can refrigerate them at this point.

Preheat the oven to 425ºf. Bake until the biscuits are lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Brush the tops with the melted butter and serve hot.

Serve with additional butter, honey or jam.

 

:: Beth ::

Fresh favorites from former 1canoe2er, @wlbuckner

 

Hi I'm Amber, @simplelovequilts on IG! I'm a huge fan of 1canoe2 and I want to thank them so much for having me! I thought and thought of the perfect box to make for my tutorial before I came up with the one that stuck. The recipe cards on their site are simply adorable so a box displaying them in all of their loveliness was completely necessary. I can't forget to mention how their fabric along side their cards are a match made in heaven. In the end I ended up with more of a recipe card holder than a box. I had so much fun making it and hope you will as well!    


Supplies Needed:

1 FQ for Inside Fabric

1 FQ for Outer Fabric

1/2 Yard Pellon/Peltex 71F

(Ultra Firm 1-Sided Fusible)

Coordinating Colored Thread

Needle for Handstitching

Iron for fusing Peltex

Wonder Clover Clips

Optional Supplies:

Glue Stick for Basting (you can glue baste instead of using thread if you choose to)

Pearl Cotton thread for top stitching

Cutting Instructions:

You will need to cut 1 of each piece using the Pellon/Peltex. 

Outer Bottom Box:

• 2 Pattern Pieces

• Bottom: 3.25" x 6.75"

• Front: 3" x 6.75"

• Back: 5" x 6.75"

Inner Bottom Box:

• 2 Pattern Pieces

• Bottom: 3" x 6.5"

• Front: 2.75" x 6.5"

• Back: 4.75" x 6.5"

You will also need to cut your fabric using the Pellon pieces as a guide. Make sure you have at least 1/2" to 3/4" of fabric surrounding your Pellon pieces on all sides for basting. 

Making your Recipe Box:

1. Prepare your Pellon pieces. Using a clear ruler and a pen trace your rectangles and your side pattern pieces to the non-fusible side of your Pellon. Make sure you label each piece as you go, to help you remember what will go where later on. Then cut them all out.

Click here for the template!

2. Fuse your Pellon to the matching fabric pieces. 


3. Baste the fabric pieces to your Pellon. You can thread baste or glue baste. 


4. You will now start to sew together your recipe box. You will first sew together your inner box completely. With right sides facing stitch together the pieces until you have a complete box.  Now sew together your outer box.



5. Flip your outer box right side out, and keep your inner box inside out. Place your inner box inside of your outer box. Wrong sides facing.


6. Top stitch your the tops of your outer and inner box together. 

I used pearl cotton thread, but this is optional. Coordinating thread to your box fabric will look equally as nice! 

7. You're done! Now, write a recipe down and cook something yummy! :)

Or fill it with other goodies!

I hope you had fun looking through these pictures and if you are interested in making some of my other boxes you can find me on craftsy! :) Here is my pattern store link: http://www.craftsy.com/user/2330367/pattern-store?_ct=fqjjuhd-ijehu&_ctp=156212,2330367

:: Amber ::

**Many thanks to our wonderful guest blogger...such a lovely tutorial! But our partnership isn't stopping there. Together we're hosting a giveaway on Amber's Instagram! Here's the deal:

1. Follow both @simplelovequilts and @1canoe2 on IG
2. Tag 2 friends on the giveaway photo on  @simplelovequilts
3. At 9pm ET on Sunday, February 7th we'll randomly select a winner to receive a 50 pack of Green Mixing Bowl Recipe Cards + Tucker Prairie 5" Charm Pack for you and each of your two tagged friends!

When was the last time you were in your element, completely confident, aware, rising to the challenges facing you, and finding happiness because of it? Maybe you find it happening while you are baking, onstage collaborating with musicians to make harmonious music or, it could even be during the last half-mile of your 10k. Positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has given a name for this objective condition: "Flow."

Positive psychologists study patterns of behavior that allow a community and individuals to achieve a fulfilled life. Csikszentmihalyi discovered people find genuine satisfaction during Flow, an “optimal experience” in which the individual feels “strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities, characteristics that are often linked to creativity. Csikszentmihalyi believed an individual’s best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile, and while doing so, training us to become more creative.  Csikszentmihalyi suggests those who are regularly in a state of Flow develop positive traits, such as high concentration, improved coping skills, and higher self-esteem.

You may be wondering, “That sounds great, but how do I find my Flow?” 

Fear not, here are some tips:

  • Find a challenge. Choose something that you enjoy doing. It can be anything, whether it’s playing the piano, working on your novel, skiing, horseback riding, playing golf, and so on.
  • Develop your skills in order to be able to meet the challenge. Remember that if something is too easy you will be bored (Think Michael Jordan practicing layups)–and your mind is likely to wander you won’t achieve the flow state, and if something is too hard (Think sewing a dress with no previous knowledge of sewing) you will be overwhelmed and won’t be able to achieve the flow state either.
  • Set clear goals. You want to be very clear on what you want to achieve and how you’ll know whether you’re succeeding. Here’s an example: “I’m going to learn how to play soccer.  I’ll know that I’m succeeding if I can demonstrate fundamentals skills as well understand the rules of the game.
  • Focus on the task at hand. Eliminate all distractions; if your concentration is broken you’re going to exit the state of flow.

Csikszentmihalyi suggests that in order to achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. You measure how challenging the activity is versus your level of skill at that particular task. For example, I have never played golf; I will not experience Flow the first time I swing a club. On the other hand, I have studied music since a young age, spending countless hours performing and learning music; therefore I should (And do) experience Flow when tackling a new piece of music. Finding “The sweet spot”, where the level of challenge is high and the skills that you have to meet that challenge are also high, is the point in which you enter the flow state.

Everyone can experience Flow, a state in which we can enjoy the challenge and appreciate the processes necessary to rise to the occasion consistently and become fulfilled.

So, what’s yours?

:: Angela ::

Psst..watch Csikszentmihalyi's TED talk on Flow right here.

Handwritten notes are just that: hand-written. They are valuable, they are personal, they are penned not only from your mind but from your very fingertips. A written note is unique and beautiful, creative and concise, and, therefore, more dense than a rambling email or a sprawling text message conversation. Also, space is generally limited on a cut piece of paper which causes one to be more intentional, with at least some forethought required. And finally, they allow (notice I used the word "allow" and not "make" or "force") us to practice our patience; snail mail is exactly as it sounds compared to the instant gratification we've become accustomed to with our beloved SEND button. I'm not saying that there isn't anything good about email, a text message, or a Facebook comment. I am simply saying that all these things have their place and purpose, and that the hand-scribed note is a precious point of contact that needs not be updated, outdated, or replaced. 
My mother-in-law has been sending us letters since my husband and I got married about four years ago. She is by far our most consistent and devoted mail sender, and oftentimes we have another letter in the mail box before we've opened the last. She writes us just to write, to tell us about daily tasks, a trip or some exciting sibling news, to give us a weather update, or to inform us of upcoming holiday plans. I am so grateful because she is faithful without any expectation of reply. I have saved my favorite letters from her - ones that tell of a landmark accomplishment in the family or ones that tell of no accomplishment at all, but give a sweet glimpse into her everyday life. It is a joy to read them now, over dinner or curled up in bed before we fall asleep, but I think the joy will only multiply as time passes. I'm so thankful to have documentation, penned from her hand, of life from her unique perspective. 
There is a sweet woman at my church named Diane. At some point Diane felt called to write a birthday card, every year on each birthday, for all the people she knows in our congregation - and it's not a small congregation. I'm not sure when this started or with how many people, but I have a feeling it's been many years. She's very humble about the whole thing and can be seen weekly, quietly walking around the sanctuary before and after church, often with a stack of cards multiple inches thick, looking for the recipients. Occasionally Diane's card is met with extra thankfulness because it is the only card that some people receive on their birthday. The cards always include an encouraging handwritten note and a bible verse, and no matter what specific words she uses, they all declare "You are important, you matter, you are special, and I am thankful that you were born." Words of truth that we all need to hear and know in a mighty way. 

I know what you're thinking... "I don't have time to send handwritten notes. They are so sloooow." Now, hold on just one hot second, not all things that are slow are bad. Sloths, for example, are extremely slow and extremely cute, and probably very important to the planet in some major way. School zones - let's be honest, safety is an excellent thing, especially when involving children. The dickens, whatever that means, is potentially a good thing. But for real, SLOW DOWN PEOPLE! Things like sweet friendships, delicious wine, and glaciers (yes, glaciers - this is what happens when I recruit my geology-loving husband to the brainstorming session) don't happen overnight, or in an instant for that matter. So I say, take 10 minutes, sit down at your kitchen table and write a little note to someone you love. Address it, lick the envelope, and drop it in your real, post cemented in the ground, have to go outside to the outside, mailbox. I promise, your heart will fill with joy as you write it - it's nearly impossible to avoid joy when practicing gratefulness and encouragement - and it will be a sweet and lovely gift for the one who receives it. It doesn't need to be perfect, and it doesn't even need to be a special occasion. Maybe it's even better if it's not.



Five Tips For Sending Handwritten Notes

1. It doesn't need to be perfect.

Anything you write is lovely. Don't stress out about your handwriting, about if the card is perfect for the occasion, or about if you have to cross a typo out. People will look past all of that in their joy and excitement of receiving your note. 

2. Don't expect a reply.

If you don't hear back from the recipient of your note, it probably didn't get lost in the mail. Most likely, they did indeed receive it and they did indeed love opening it. It's okay to leave it at knowing that you were given the gift of encouraging someone. Don't let a lack of reply stop you from writing other notes. 

3. Do it right away.

I often have really great intentions of writing someone a note, I get the idea at a random moment in my day and think, "I'll do that a little later," and then it slips out of my brain and I never seem to find an opportune time later to actually do it. Here's my suggestion (and something I'm trying to get better at), do it right away. The moment that little idea pops into your head - quick! Grab the nearest note card, greeting card, or scrap of paper, and write down that little bit of love. It really doesn't take that long, don't trick yourself into thinking it does. You can even address and stamp the envelope later if you need to. 

4. Have fun with the envelope.

Use a fun pen, get some colorful tape, google "hand lettered address" and give it a go. This will make that sweet "Oh!! I got a letter!" moment at the mailbox even more fun. Although, if you're feeling particularly void of creativity, don't worry about it. One of my favorite quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert is, "Done is better than good." 

5. It doesn't have to be a novel.

I know, I know, you're using a whole stamp!!! It's OK, really. I promise. A simple and short note is a gift to someone and it's much more likely to get done. If you intend on writing a lengthy update, for most of us, the anticipation of having to set that much time aside will prevent us from making it happen. If you can do it, good for you, but don't be afraid to jot down just a few sweet sentences and send it off.

:: Whitney :: 

**Many thanks to our wonderful guest blogger! Whitney is a former 1canoe2 crew member, but she remains (and will always remain) near and dear to our hearts!

Everything could be improved with a little gold paint. This is a super quick and easy tutorial on how to class up your wood stump! All you need is the stump from the 2016 Letterpress Stump Calendar, a paintbrush and a small amount of Liquid Leaf paint. Now usually I would show you a picture of the paint jar so you know what to look for when you’re out shopping, but it turns out that apparently I don’t know my own strength and broke the jar while I was trying to unstick the lid! Gold paint was ALL OVER my kitchen. My toaster is now gold, the blender is gold, even the crockpot fell victim to the splash. So no picture of the actual jar, but you can see it on the Michaels website right here.

The size of brush you choose depends on the level of detail you’re looking for in the final product. The bigger the brush, the less detail you’ll end up with — pretty straight forward. I would, however, recommend using a cheaper brush that you could easily live without. This gold paint is a little harder to rinse out than your typical acrylic or gauche.

Here it goes:

1. Shake the Liquid Leaf well before using.

2. Evenly coat your brush with paint. I dipped my brush straight in the jar...no need to dirty things up more than I need to, right? The paint is fairly thin but opaque so it covers very well. You should only need one coat.

3. Get to painting! Remember that there is a definite top and bottom to the stump — the top will have a nice little groove cut for the calendar.

Be sure to post your finished project to our Facebook page! We love seeing these tutorials come to life in your photos. Happy painting!

:: Haley ::

Psst..we also have a tutorial on how to up-cycle the 2015 XL Calendar!

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