Tu-Na Travels: Tu-Na Helper’s Side of the 2016 Quilt MN Shop Hop

You’ve heard from me about how fantastic our 2016 Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop trip was and I know at least a few of you have asked what my husband had to say about it. To satisfy your curiosity, I asked my husband if he’d share his thoughts about the trip. He was my helper: paid for everything, chauffeured me around, found things for me in shops that I had missed, and was in charge of taking interior and exterior shop photos while I interviewed and shopped. Without further ado, here’s Tu-Na Helper….

Hi everyone! Who’d have thought that I would be the talk of the internet (or at least this blog) and I am not even running for President!  Yes.  I accompanied my wife Karen on the MN Shop Hop not only this year, but for a total of three years now. I’m sure some of you think I may not have a life of my own. Not true! I have my own interests and hobbies that keep me more than occupied at times.



Here we are taking a selfie at the giant mosquito poster just outside of the Sweetwater Cotton Shoppe in Paynesville, MN. Had I known that this would be my internet debut, I would have combed my hair!

But first, where did my nickname come from? Well, we offered to bring my sister-in-law along for a day on the hop. Karen explained to her that she was going to blog about our journey and that I was taking photos for her blog. Karen told her that the name of the blog was “Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats”. My sister-in-law immediately piped up and said ” Oh, so that would make you Tu-Na Helper”. We had a good laugh about that. But unfortunately for me, the nickname seems to have stuck. What makes it even more unfortunate is that I do not even like tuna (fish)! Oh well, I’m a tough guy. I can take it.

So why would a husband agree to spend all this time shopping for fabric with his wife? I guess I do not think of it as lost time. I get to spend quality time with my wife doing something she enjoys (which also means she is in a pretty good mood). I enjoy looking for unique quilts and decorations that can be found on display in the shops. We also get to see areas in Minnesota that we otherwise would not get to see. Even after three times around the state, we manage to find something new and interesting. We are usually pretty focused on getting to our next destination, but we do look for some unique eateries for our evening meals. A couple of my favorites were Sherwood Forest near Nisswa, MN, and The Sawmill Saloon in  Virginia, MN.


I found this quilt design particularly intriguing. It is called Gentlemen’s Agreement and was displayed at the Calico Hutch Quilt Shop in Hayward, MN.



On this trip we also took time off one afternoon to take a sailboat ride on Lake Peppin. It was both exhilarating and relaxing. On our way back to the dock we saw this hearty group of sailors out for a spin. I could not resist taking a photo or two. One never knows what wonderful sights you will come across when you take in the world around you.

I do enjoy helping Karen find some of the fabrics she needs. I have a fairly good eye for color matches if she has an idea of what she needs or a piece of fabric she is trying to match or contrast. I also monitor her spending to some extent. I know that it may not seem that way now that you have seen her loot, but believe me, it could be worse.

One of the sayings she frequently hears me remind her of is to “Spread the love”. What I mean by that is that she should not buy all the fabric she wants in one shop. Since we plan to visit all the shops on the hop we try to spread our purchases to as many shops as possible. We did not find items to purchase in every shop, but there was only a handful that we missed. The shops all go through a lot of expense and effort to hold the shop hop. Their reward is some additional business, sales, and recognition. While I understand that it is unrealistic to make a purchase in every shop, I feel that is also rude for a hopper to run in, get their passport stamped, and run back out without even looking around the shop a bit. Half the fun of the hop is talking to the shop’s owners and staff and seeing some of the fantastic quilts they have in their shops. Sorry about that, I will get off of my soapbox now…

A little more about my role as “Tu-Na Helper”. Using the Quilt Minnesota website to get the list of participating shops, I plan our route using an online site to find the most efficient route. While this is very helpful, it usually changes more than once along the way. Load the car, fuel the car, and we are on our way. My new role as photographer for the shop hop posts kept me busy while Karen would talk to the staff and do her shopping. I always ask someone on staff if they have any issues with me taking pictures in their store. Most shops have no problem but there are a few who prefer that no photos be taken. I honor those requests. I take my photographer role ‘very’ seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I took over a thousand photos! See what I mean!



This cute little saying met us at the door of Sadie Rae’s Quilt Shop in Wilton, MN. It applied pretty well to Karen. The amount of creativity that is shown in all the quilt shops is simply amazing. And yes, I said “cute” and I am man enough to admit it.


 We usually do not know where we will end up at the end of the day. By mid afternoon we have a better idea and I can check ahead to see where we can get a room. It’s more exciting that way don’t ya know! The only time we had much of an issue was last year in the southern part of Minnesota along Interstate 90. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally overlaps the Quilt Hop and every room within 30 miles of I90 was booked. In calling around I tried the Old Railroad Inn Bed & Breakfast in Jackson, MN. Luckily, they had just had a cancellation from a biker who had engine trouble earlier in the day and was not able to get to Jackson that day. We had a great night there!

Earlier I stated that I had my own interests too. I am an avid gardener and tend to supply my family with all the summer vegetables they can handle. We have a small fruit tree orchard as well. We have nine apple trees that are providing a record harvest this year. We have been cidering apples these past two weekends and have already pressed 134 gallons of apple cider with our cider press along with the help of family and friends. So what do you do with that much apple cider you may ask. Well, you ask everyone you know if they have any freezer room to store it. So far so good! Actually, fresh apple cider is a great tasting healthy drink. If that doesn’t suit you, we also take several gallons of cider to our local vintner to turn into apple wine. Doesn’t that sound better!



This is the reward for a day’s work at the cider press.

 I also enjoy photography and reading ( I prefer science fiction stories). Having retired from an information technology job I still try to keep up with what’s new in that field as well as any new personal technology developments. I have started entering my photos in some local contests with limited success.



This photo, “Apache Lake Vista”, earned an honorable mention in a people’s choice photo show.

This past week our local library had their annual used book sale. Books are sold by the pound at the sale, at one dollar a pound. Now that’s a deal! I got a little carried away, but in my defense I was shopping for four people. I even picked up one book for Karen. However, the vast majority were books for me. My purchase totaled sixty dollars! When I told Karen how much I spent she didn’t make a fuss. After all, what could she say after all the loot she picked up on the hop? Hmmm…  I wonder if the library book sale is still open tomorrow…

Well, I think I have used up enough space here. I hope you enjoyed it. I know Karen is excited about her blog and hopes that you will continue to follow her posts. Her blog is currently being read in 42 countries. I certainly never expected her to have so much success in such a short time. Enjoy life and stay safe!

What I, “Tu-Na Helper,” Learned Today:

  1. A person can get pretty cold while picking apples on a windy 40 degree F day.
  2. We would never be able to use up all our apples without the help of family and friends.
  3. Happy wife, happy life.

Question: What is your favorite apple desert?

Thanks to my husband for being a good sport and writing this guest post. I’ll be back soon with a story about that plus quilt and some apple eats.

Linking to

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop (button on the sidebar)

Finished or Not Friday (button on the sidebar)

Em’s Scrapbag Moving It Forward

Cooking Up Quilts for Main Crush Monday (button on sidebar)

Love Laugh Quilt for Monday Making





19 thoughts on “Tu-Na Travels: Tu-Na Helper’s Side of the 2016 Quilt MN Shop Hop

  1. Gretchen

    Tuna-Helper – I enjoyed reading your post. Sounds like you are a fun person to travel with. It’s nice you have your own hobbies. Otherwise Tu-Na would have you start quilting then you would buy twice as much ‘stuff’. I’d love to see your garden and I would definitely take you up on the cider. I’ve always put cider in the freezer to last the winter. Especially since our daughter moved to Arizona. They don’t have cider there and that is the first thing she wants when she comes home for Christmas, a good drink of cider. Blessings, Gretchen


  2. Jan

    Loved your post Tuna-Helper. It is always a fun time here when we head out on a road trip. Good times spent together, great scenery, new food stops and a few great shops along the way. My favorite apple dessert is apple slices with hot caramel.


  3. jennyfur66

    Great post Tu-Na Helper! What a great couple you two are. You really and truly complement each other. The photographs you have taken are marvelous and, I must say, made me want to visit the many shops on the hop. That is a lot of apple cider. I’m sure your family and friends love your generosity. I love hot apple crisp with a helping of vanilla ice cream on top.


  4. piecefulwendy

    Great to hear from you, Tuna-Helper, and happy to hear you both enjoyed your trek around Minnesota. We’re kinda proud of our little state, don’t cha know? It sounds like you enjoyed the Shop Hop as much as Karen did! I’d love to sip some of your cider (or wine). Our two favorite apple recipes are apple crisp and frosted apple bars.


  5. Mary Beth

    Great husband helps to make happy wife – happy life. I know because I also have one of those great husbands. Living in Minnesota we have done the quilt shop hop every year although not the whole thing because work tends to get in the way. When we plan our vacations they usually center around Civil War battlefields, military museums, quilt and rubber stamp shops. I enjoyed your blog post very much as well as reading the blog about the trip.

    My favorite apple recipes: My mom use to make a great apple bar – it was like a double crust apple pie made in a cookie sheet size pan.


  6. Demaris Soso

    HI, What a great fantastic account of your trip as the helper on the Shop Hop. You are a
    great husband to go along with your wife and keep her happy buying fabric. She will keep
    busy for many days now.
    This was a great story, enjoyed it so much, couldn’t help but think what a “Saint” you must
    be to do this not for one year but three, now really. You will be the envy of every quilting
    wife around.
    Will look forward to next years Shop Hop stories.
    A Faithful Reader,
    Demaris Soso


  7. Cathy Melancon

    Dear Tu-Na Helper! You are a peach! I loved reading your post! You are a gifted writer and photographer!! You and Karen make a fabulous team obviously!! You surely take good care of her and that is so sweet! Keep the guest posts coming!! Good luck with all the cider. I’m guessing I would be the apple wine type!!!!


  8. Tracy

    I’ve been looking forward to this post 🙂 Thanks for sharing TuNa Helper! I think it’s fabulous that the two of you do this together!! My husband is going to have to up his photography game if we’re ever going to follow in y’all’s footsteps er – tire tracks.
    I adore fresh pressed apple juice (what is the difference between that and cider I wonder??) My family used to host a weekend event a few times a year and friends would come and we’d all work together to make gallons of juice )but nowhere near 134!) Ahhhh ~ there is nothing like the taste of that (thawed) frozen juice in the middle of winter. This makes me want some real bad, now, darn it!
    hmmm, Favorite apple dessert. I love sliced apples dipped in caramel sauce and topped with pecans, red hots and/or coconut in the fall, And maybe apple dumplings with a really nice vanilla ice cream in the winter. And really I just love a nice honey crisp or pink lady all year round


  9. Bonnie

    Great post, Tu-na Helper! Very wise advice: Happy wife=Happy life! 🙂 Reminds of: “If momma ain’t happy, no one’s happy! 😉 I was going to say apple bars too, then I noticed that Sheila also said that-we think alike!


  10. Carmen

    Great post and lots of fun! My favorite apple dessert is Danish Pastry Apple Bars. I really agree about it being rude just to walk into a shop, get your card stamped, and walk back out!


  11. karenj7216

    I enjoyed reading your post. Loved the picture in the boat. It looks so relaxing. You must have found a lot of great reads. We still need to purchase some apple cider. I have never froze it. My favorite Apple recipe is apple dumplings.


  12. Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts

    I think it is wonderful the two of you enjoy these shop hops each year. It must be a rewarding experience to spend that much quality time together. You look as if you had so much fun! I’ve enjoyed reading Karen’s posts along the trip and now reading about your experience. Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself and your point of view on the trip. The trip sounds fantastic!


  13. Tish

    Life’s even better when you have such a supporting spouse. I love that both of you were able to relax and get away and share in the trip together. Hmmm…apple dish, I’m going to go with dutch apple pie hot from the oven.


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