The Feed Projects

Have you heard of Feed


I posted about them at some point probably a year or two ago through Blanket Statements. The Feed Projects is a non profit social enterprise founded by Lauren Bush and Ellen Gustafson. I was immediately drawn to their burlap bags and their mission of giving.

Read about their company and history in this Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 article from 2010.

The Feed Projects mission is to create good products that help feed the world. They sell T-shirts, bags, and other accessories with a set donation built into the price to cover their mission to feed the world. The impact of each product is signified by the number printed onto the product.

This is my favorite (of course):


This week I learned that Feed Projects products will now be carried by Target. (USA Today, March 11, 2013) As much as I respect the work Feed is doing, I’m a tiny bit concerned about this. Now don’t get me wrong, as a consumer I like Target. For the most part. I think they have a much better record of giving back to the community than some other discount big box stores that I won’t mention or set foot in. But as a former employee of Target (I worked there in 2005-2006) I am not a fan of their treatment of employees. But that is part of my story and may not pertain to everyone – I’m sure everyone has horror stories of places they’ve worked. I also worked there during one of the lowest points in my life, and truly feel it was a life changing experience for my family.

That being said, when I started Blanket Statements four year later, one of the goals I had was to find blankets made in the USA. To do what little I could to help the US economy and bring jobs back home. I mean, I am just one mom, but if not me, who?

I ran into immediate trouble trying to source items made in the USA. Most everything, and I mean – most everything – is made somewhere else now. I started reading up on textile manufacturing, and sadly, it is probably 98% gone from this country. (And did you know almost everything also contains HFCS? – thankfully not blankets, but just about all food/beverages. Ick) I searched stores…online, and in stores like Sears, Macy’s, Meijer, and even Target – and sure enough – every single blanket in their stores are made in China or elsewhere.

What does this have to do with the Feed Projects? Well, in addition to Target carrying their bags and T-shirts – they will have dinnerware, bicycles, and yes, even blankets. My first thought was, oh no, blankets too? Blankets made in China? I mean, I’m torn here – I love Feed Projects mission, but is the merchandise being made under their watchful eye? Or is it their designs/logo put onto merchandise manufactured under perhaps less than desirable conditions?

Some of The Feed Projects bags are manufactured in Guatemala and Africa by organizations employing local women to sew the items and help support their regions. But the bulk of their items are made in China using a fair trade factory. They also have Feed NYC bags that are being made in New York to support the local garment industry there. I am just hoping that now that the Feed Projects is “hitting the big time” with distribution through Target that they continue to hold onto their ideals of fair trade. I just wish that they would do more manufacturing in the US.

That being said, Blanket Statements will be debuting some all-new cotton blankets manufactured right in the middle of the heartland in Iowa very soon. Stay tuned!


Morning angst

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 8.26.01 AMToday did not get off to a good start. We had a dusting of snow overnight. Normally a dusting is no big deal, but in actuality there was quite a bit of ice underneath the dust. I travel about 20 miles one way on my commute. I am blessed to no longer have that over an hour commute I used to have – 20 minutes is long enough now.

Listening to the radio this morning I was hearing how bad the roads were to the west of us. Luckily, we were heading east. Had a bit of a rough spot getting out of the driveway and up the couple hills we have near us, but after that it was mostly smooth sailing.

Until we hit Grayslake. I drop my daughter off at school on my way in to work, and this morning was like any other morning. Except for the ice. We were almost to school when we hit our first patch of ice. Car slid right, then slid left. Luckily no one else was on the sleepy neighborhood street. I corrected and we both looked at each other. Cripes. Got to the stop sign and again, slid, antilock brakes kicking in just in the nick of time to stop. But it was close. I started to make my turn but noticed another car coming. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to have enough traction to make a quick turn, so I stopped. And was immediately honked at by the SUV behind me.

No worries, but I wasn’t going to try to attempt to turn in front of an oncoming car with the ice I’d just experienced under me. Once the car passed I made my left turn towards the school. Destination in site. And also a crash at the next corner. My daughter said – hey that looks like my friend’s car! And sure enough, it was. Luckily it wasn’t the one that had hit the tree in someone’s front yard. Her’s was the one right next to it. The kids were fine – both out on cell phones, but they were blocking the westbound lane a block from the school drop off.

The cars coming eastbound waited as we passed the accident. The SUV was still behind me as I dropped off my daughter. And the school security guard makes everyone coming out of the school head west, so once again I had to go past the accident. And now there were more cars, coming from all directions trying to get past it with only one lane open. I stopped and let the oncoming traffic come since I needed to turn at that corner. Person in the SUV once again honked impatiently.

I finally made it to work a few minutes late, which means I was about 20 minutes late in total since I’m usually in early. Listening to the news there were quite a few accident this morning. You could hear sirens everywhere. School bus hit in a neighboring town. Cars in ditches. And everywhere horns honking and impatient people. I hear comments about people not knowing how to drive, about how they don’t have any problem with the conditions.

I know I am super sensitive and this morning just taxed me. I needed a good cry by the time I got to work and especially after hearing comments by others. I just don’t understand how people got to be so impatient with each other. When did it become “all about me?” And no longer “about us?” What happened to loving your neighbor? Perhaps we all need a reminder to think of others too. Not everyone has 4 wheel drive, or even good tires. Some people are doing the best they can with what they have.

Art Stalker

A couple weeks ago I had a revelation about Valentine’s Day after seeing all the “I hate Valentine’s Day” stuff floating around the web. I wasn’t going to let the whole couple oriented aspect of the day get me down. So I ordered myself a little something. Not knowing of course, that I got an anonymous treat that day, but today my super special treat to myself arrived in the mail. All the way from the frozen tundra of Canada.

I’ve been following this artist for about a year or so, maybe two. We are both members of The Artisan Group, and I was immediately drawn to her artwork. At first I thought they were photos. Nope. Paintings. Phenomenal paintings. I’ve been watching her post links to her goodies on Facebook, and checking out her etsy page for some time. Yep, call me a stalker. I stalk art, among other things.

So for Valentine’s Day I splurged and bought myself a print that I just adore. It is three feathers – a robin, cardinal, and blue jay. And if you know me at all, you know that I’ve posted many of my own photos of each of these birds. They visit me often in my backyard. I adore them! So when I saw her painting of these three feathers together, I knew it was meant to be. And when I say I splurged, I really didn’t – her prints are very well priced. But I don’t usually buy stuff for myself all that often, so for me it was a splurge.

Today my goodies arrived!!


Forgive my less than glorious photos, but I was at work and excited to open my goody!!


So when I flipped over the envelope to open it, look at her stamp! How cool is that! “Packaged with care using re-used, recyclable materials. Go Green! Recycle!” Oh Jody, so good.



So I pull out the expertly wrapped Kraft paper package and see a cute little tag and a beautiful business card stuck on the front. It was just like a perfectly wrapped gift.


Here’s a close up of the back of her card. Aren’t the feathers gorgeous? I should have posted the other side too, but I’ll post her contact info at the end of this post.


So I carefully unwrap the paper, and find a double cardboard package. Carefully, cut the tape and there it is! Beautiful!!


It is even more beautiful in person that online photos can show. Truly a work of art. I don’t know how she does it, but I am just in awe of her talent.



This is my first official art that will hang in my new house. Once I have the upstairs part renovated it will be hanging in my living room. Once I get it all matted and framed up I will post another pic. Hopefully it will also be hanging on a finished wall too!

Please visit Jody Edwards Fine Art – she has an etsy shop: that has all sorts of items, from her original paintings, to prints, and even greeting cards. She even has one of a Fisher Price Little People person (my other vice). I especially like her paintings of nests that are customizable – she can paint in the number of eggs that you’d like. Which makes a WONDERFUL mother’s day gift – add in the number of eggs for the children your mom has. I might have to get myself one of those too.

You can also find her on Facebook: Tell her I sent you and keep gushing on about her paintings.

Jody: Perfect! Couldn’t be happier with my purchase!


Morning Has Broken

Do you know who Eleanor Farjeon is?

I did not, but today is her birthday. Per Wikipedia: Eleanor Farjeon was an English author of children’s stories and plays, poetry, biography, history and satire. Many of her works had charming illustrations by Edward Ardizzone. Some of her correspondence has also been published.

The reason I’m bringing up Eleanor Farjeon is because I saw information posted about her on a Facebook page this morning. I didn’t stop because of her name, or her birthday, but because lines from a children’s hymn she wrote were posted. A hymn she wrote in 1931 that you probably know and love.

Morning Has Broken

Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word!

Sweet the rain’s new fall sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dew fall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in the completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with the elation, praise every morning,
God’s recreation of the new day!

Now this hymn has special meaning to me, which is what made me stop and notice this morning. As many of you know, and for those who don’t, I am a musician. I started playing guitar when I was five. Before I could read, even. And sometime around 3rd, 4th, 5th grade I played this hymn in church – solo me – on guitar. I remember so clearly standing up on the stage (sorry, if that isn’t the correct church term, I’m not so churchy anymore), with me guitar playing away with Cat Stevens singing in my head.

It was quite a moment. I’m sure that wasn’t my first time playing, as a matter of fact, I remember playing a lot in grade school. For assemblies, for show & tell, even sitting in art class. I used to sit and play while the other kids were working on projects. Looking back I led quite a different life. But standing up there in the quiet church playing in front of the congregation was really something. That feeling has stuck with me all these years. And that song always touches my heart.
Happy birthday, Eleanor. And thank you.

Screen shot 2013-02-13 at 12.42.50 PM

Me, circa 1973

Did you see the new headers?

Ok, I know this isn’t a life shattering post, but just wanted to share that I did a little work on the blog and made 6 new headers. They are set to display randomly because I couldn’t decide which to use right away. I liked them all. But that’s the point.

Do what makes you happy. And for now, these fit the bill.


Did I ever explain the blog name, by the way?

Since I decided to combine the Blanket Statements blog and the Leslie A Photography blog into one to simplify my crazy hectic life, I wanted something that would encompass both aspects. To try to tie everything together. You know, the moving on with life part. But also the focus on the betterment of situations part. I’m an almost 47 year old (who still feels 16, mind you) who has decided my entire life is suddenly laid out before me like an unpainted canvas. There’s a path to take, or rather several paths to take judging from the photos – and I want to see where they all go. But not forget where I came from or what I can do to give a hand to those that are coming along.

Going forward. Giving Back. I don’t think it gets any better than that.

Musings about V-day

I’m not really a big celebrator of holidays. Except Halloween. But Halloween is just downright fun. So I haven’t really given much thought to Valentine’s Day lately. Valentine’s Day was always kind of one of those “responsibility” days. When something was expected. You took little cards to school. Made little crafty boxes or envelopes to hang on your desk for people to drop in notes. And later on it was about getting a flower in high school. Or jewelry, candy, flowers as an adult. Expectations, I guess. I was never really big on that.

This year, I’ve been giving it a bit of thought. What does it mean exactly, and why are people either so for or so against it? It’s just another day, right?

Let’s get this straight – I’m separated at the moment. Kind of in marriage-divorce limbo. We’ve decided, based on finances, to wait to officially divorce until after our youngest turns 18 and divorce magically becomes much easier, faster, and less expensive. I don’t have a problem with that (I think it was my idea, actually). He’s moved on, I’ve moved on, and as long as tempers don’t flair all is good.

So by all accounts I should be kind of bitter about Valentine’s Day. Single (sort of), no chocolates coming my way, no flowers, no jewelry. But today, I kind of surprised myself by taking notice of a website that sells “Anti-Valentine’s Day” goods. Huh. “Anti” Valentine’s Day. Hadn’t really thought of that before. Interesting.

And I think the thing that got me thinking was – do you have to have a man or a love in your life to enjoy Valentine’s Day? Is it an either/or deal? You embrace the flowers and hearts, or you despise them? It got me to thinking. Because I’m not really adverse to Valentine’s Day, in theory. Celebrating love, decorating in reds and pinks, flowers, and pretty things. No, I’m not adverse to that at all. I rather enjoy that. Even though I’m single.

It kind of hit me that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day of sadness, or loneliness, or celebrating “anti V-day” – it can be a celebration day of yourself. I am loving life right now. I am single (sort of), I have wonderful kids (who I don’t see often enough), I don’t have nearly the “stuff” I did before, but neither do I have the emotional baggage I was struggling to carry around with me. I’m not scared, I’m not depressed, and I’m not feeling sorry for myself any longer.

I’m happy to be where I am right now. I am enjoying all of the moments – good and bad, as they relate to me. Not me and another person. I think maybe Valentine’s day should be taken back from celebrating “couples” or a person’s connection to another, and can be about loving where you are right now. Finding the positives that you have personally. Whether you are with someone else or not.

I saw this photo this week and just loved it. Not because it bashes married people, or those in a relationship, but because it speaks to being happy right now. With the wind blowing through your hair and your hands in the air. Exhilaratingly in love with life.

Screen shot 2013-01-25 at 1.02.50 PM This Valentine’s Day I’m not overlooking. I’m going to celebrate my love for life. For me.

My last 2012 Post…

Um, yeah I kinda missed that last post of 2012 that I said I was going to do. And it is a really important one, so I’m just gonna do it now. My last favorite photo post is one of my daughter, Mary. Who I call Margo. Because that’s how I roll.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I kinda stumbled on this photo thing. I was an art major in college (after starting out a Biology major, go figure), and did quite a bit of film work – B&W photos, developing, dark room, etc. Lot of fun, but I mainly used it as a stepping stone in computer graphics work, which is what really clicked for me in college. So photography was just an extension of the computer work as a means to get the computer images out.

Fast forward almost 30 years and here I am exploring photography for its own merits rather than a means to an end. Gotta say I’m enjoying it. I was taking photos for the last 5-6 years at my day job. Taking photos of artwork, school buildings, sights around town, and posting them on the district website. People started to comment on my photos as they became more artistic. Photos of the fall leaves with the school as the backdrop. The downtown covered in snow. Stuff like that.

So this past fall I decided to open up shop and share what I’ve been doing. One of the first events I took my camera to last fall was a high school marching band competition at a local school. My son was in the band, as was I when I was in high school, so I was really looking forward to the day. And I did get some excellent photos of the kids marching from 6 of the participating schools. Photos posted here.

But while we (Margo came with me, btw) were waiting in between bands, I snapped two really quick photos of Margo. There was just something about the way the wind was blowing her hair. She was wearing my jean jacket because it was a bit cool, and we were just leaning up against a fence. But it is one of my all-time favorite photos. I think it is spectacular. Just a quick snap, no editing, no cropping, nothing. SOOC or straight out of the camera, as the photo people put it.



I entered this photo in the Professional Women Photographer’s 37th Anniversary International Show on kind of a lark. I’d entered a few of my other photos in a couple other open calls for shows, but didn’t get chosen. But I figured it was worth a shot. And this time, Margo was chosen. We’ve been included in the Honorable Mention category from 1250 entries. Thrilled beyond belief is an understatement. To be selected is wonderful. To be selected for a photo of my beautiful girl is phenomenal.

My baby girl will be going off to college in the fall. I will miss my buddy hanging out with me. I will miss being able to rely on her to be a model for me. I will miss her greatly. But I have a great award-winning photo that I snapped of her on a whim. Because I liked how her hair was being blown by the wind. A photo of my baby girl smiling at me that I can look at any time I miss her.

And that, is my most favorite photo of 2012.