Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quilt Quest Redux 11-27-2011

Just when you thought our quilt quest story was over, it found a voice again. Last week, Mike Gordon from the Star Advertiser in Hawaii, contacted some of us to get an update on what happened. He couldn't keep his readers in limbo knowing if Alex received our gift or not. We told him the quest was complete and that Alex received the quilt. Read his article from today's Star Advertiser below.

Big Mahalo to Mike Gordon for a wonderful article and to our friends at for posting it for Alex's fans.

 In case you forgot what Alex's quilt looked like, here are pix of the front and back. Enjoy!

O'Loughlin fans' quilt quest wraps up with a warm note

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2011
Courtesy photo

Ellen Swedberg previously met Alex O'Loughlin at a gallery opening in Los Angeles in May. Swedberg came to Hawaii for the Sunset on the Beach premiere of "Hawaii Five-0" in September and hoped to get a quilt she made to the actor.

For nearly a week, the four women worried about what would happen if their quest failed. More than likely there would be tears, frustration and quiet flights back to their mainland homes.
They had come to Hawaii for the Sunset on the Beach premiere of "Hawaii Five-0" in September — a dream come true — but they all agreed they could not leave the islands without having given show star Alex O'Loughlin a handmade quilt.
He was busy, though. The demands of making a TV show kept him on set all day with barely a break. It reduced Ellen Swedberg to tears. She had worked on the quilt for seven months.
"I was a mess," said Swedberg, a 51-year-old government worker from Santa Rosa, Calif.
Swedberg and friends Stacey Jonson of Seattle, Madaline O'Connor of New Jersey and Deb Young of Illinois first met six months earlier on Twitter when they plugged into the show's social-media universe. They talked about everything in their lives, but whenever they talked about "Five-0" the discussion turned to O'Loughlin, the Australian hunk who plays Steve McGarrett.
The 5-by-5-foot quilt that Swedberg created had separate themes on each side. The front was a traditional Hawaiian design while the back contained squares of cloth that illustrated O'Loughlin's acting career.
The work was intense.
CBS representatives said they would accept the quilt on the actor's behalf, but the women resisted that idea. They wanted to see the look on O'Loughlin's face, in part because they had already shown it to him while he walked the red carpet at Sunset on the Beach.
"You made me a quilt?" the actor commented. "That's amazing."
And the women felt a sense of purpose that came from strangers who had heard of their story and stopped them on the street or approached them at restaurants.
"People were commenting the whole trip, which then made it even more important for us to have some closure to the story," said the 45-year-old Jonson.
The day before the end of their trip, the four friends had resigned themselves to failure. They were going sightseeing.
Then they learned that "Five-0" was shooting at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar on Kapiolani Boulevard. They arrived at Shokudo with nothing to lose.
"Ellen goes right up to the security guard and asks to speak to Alex's personal assistant about giving him a gift," O'Connor said. "He came over and said, ‘You are the girls with the quilt.'"
Better still, they were told the actor knew their story. But the actor's assistant said they would still have to leave it with someone else at the show's production offices — a leap of faith.
"There was something about him that was so genuine that I believed him immediately," Swedberg said. "He said, ‘If you trust me, I will make sure he gets it.'"
It was the end of an emotional week — a wild adventure, Jonson said.
"It kind of was the deep breath at the end of the story," she said.
But it wasn't the end of the story.
A month later, as Jonson watched TV on a Sunday afternoon, her phone buzzed: incoming email. In inboxes across the country, her three friends received the same message.
Jonson stared at the phone and screamed. She jumped off the couch. Her fingers shook but she still managed to dial her friends.
It was a personal email from O'Loughlin.
"Would like to sincerely thank you for the gift."
Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser’s film and television writer. Read his Outtakes Online blog at Reach him at 529-4803 or email


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

During this time of the year, we take for granted the abundances we have. Always remember there are those who are struggling to support their loved ones, jobless, homeless, or just without families. Reach out into your communities to help those who are less fortunate. You can serve at a soup kitchen, donate clothing or household goods, donate to toys for tots, select a gift request off of your church gift tree and buy it, or just visit someone in a nursing home or shelter.  

With the all that you cherish and are thankful for on this day, remember our Armed Forces men and woman who have served or are serving around the world and far away from their families and loved ones. They are the reason we have our Freedom.

Blessings to all of our families, friends, blog followers and our new Ohana that we met this year in Hawaii. We are thankful for all of you!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ellen, Stacey, Deb and Madaline

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Quilt Quest....He got it !!!

Several weeks have gone by. Besides wanting to be back in Hawaii, there was a nagging question running through our minds about the quilt.... Did Alex really get the quilt for sure???  We didn't want to ask Daniel Dae Kim or Peter Lenkov to ask Alex about it and reply to us. We were just hoping to hear some kind of response from Alex's assistants or anyone on the Hawaii Five-0 staff. When we initially left the quilt at the production offices, we were smart enough to put a copy of our fabulous article (thanks again to @Crankydad) and our contact information in the bag hoping to get a response... any response. Of course we'd be lying if we didn't say we hoped (toes and fingers crossed) we'd get a response from Alex himself. 

We were talking with each other online as usual on the morning of HIFF (Hawaiian Int'l Film Festival), Sunday, October 16, 2011. One of the ladies was checking her email and suddenly squeeeeeeeed and told us to check our emails immediately. Of course there was nothing in our regular email, so we went right to our spam folders.  There it email from Alex!

It was a simple line of thanks for the quilt to the four of us, which read:
Would like to sincerely thank you for the gift. Your dedication, time, and work put in "making" the quilt is beyond words appreciated.


(Did you notice Alex hashtagged his name?!?!)
How cool was that! We finally got the news we wanted to hear....Alex got the quilt! 
Looking back and remembering what friends said to us; "You're making a gift and BRINGING it to Hawaii?" It did seem pretty impossible. The closer the trip came, the more and more possible it seemed! When thinking back on the "quilt experience" it was so much more than the obvious gift it was intended to be. The enjoyment that we had in deciding what fabric to use, and whether we thought Alex would understand our choices, helped to make the hiatus time go by so much faster.  

The designing of it was something tangible to make the whole #H50/#AOL experience that was happening on twitter , more real. Something you could actually touch and see.  It was "incredible" (which doesn't feel like a strong enough word) that people all over the world could "talk" daily about their thoughts on Alex and the show.  

Something that's handmade is one thing - something that's designed so that every part of it shows the recipient that they're appreciated for what they bring to others - well - that's something more.  It brings us immense joy to know that our message of appreciation made it to Alex.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aloha! 9-15-2011

Such a heavy phrase “The Last Day”, but it felt like a heavy day. We had stayed up very late the night before trading pictures. Yes, we know what you are thinking – the four of us must have had a lot of SOTB pictures to share. Indeed we did, but we were also sharing our #AOL collections as well – so this took TIME!!!

When morning arrived, we got up and went to the balcony of our hotel to say “good morning Diamond Head”, which had become our morning ritual this past week. We went downstairs for our Starbucks and breakfast. With us were the lei that Maddy had given us at the premiere.  Starbucks in hand, we walked across the street to the beach. As per tradition, we were told to either throw our lei into the ocean to ensure a safe return one day or leave them on one of the statues. We chose to leave them on a statue at “our” beach. Anna Sinclair, one of our twitter pals, was standing right near the statue. We wanted a picture taken since this was going to be the last time the four of us were together in Hawaii. We asked Anna to take the picture for us and she obliged. Queens Beach held a special place in our hearts, so the spot we chose was perfect.

Stacey and Ellen had the first flights out, so Maddy and Deb took the rental car back. They “got lost” (really they did) and somehow ended up driving past the H50 production offices.  They did confirm that the bag with Alex’s quilt inside was not in the guard shack anymore. They got back just in time to see Ellen and Stacey off, and let them know the quilt was no longer in the guard shack and hopefully in Alex’s hands.
Many tears were shed and hugs were abundant. Nobody wanted to go home. Some fellow twitter friends made their way down to the lobby to see them off. They were on their way out to see the sights of Oahu for the day. Stacey and Ellen gathered their luggage and boarded their shuttle back to the airport. During the ride back, they watched as familiar sights went by. It didn’t seem possible that so much had happened in only one week.  It started to drizzle the first real rain they’d seen all week. (Except for the quick shower that came through during the H50 premiere) It felt like Hawaii was crying with them because they were leaving.
They arrived at the airport. After saying more tearful good-byes to each other, they went their separate ways to their gates. While waiting in line at security, Ellen texted Stacey: “I had NO idea I would feel this way, it’s SO sad to leave”.  No truer words had never been spoken or in this case, texted. You know how typically the return trip seems to go faster? They were the longest flights both Stacey and Ellen had ever had. What each had left behind will never be duplicated. Sure, future SOTBs will hold special meaning, but that first one will always be “the one.”

Since Deb and Maddy didn’t leave until later that day, they decided to take a walk down Queens Beach for the last time after hanging out with their twitter pals.  It was lunch time, so they just had to stop at the Queens Surf Cafe & Lanai one more time. Kait greeted them and took their orders. After receiving their food, they sat and shared stories of the week and talked about going back home to reality. Kait also gave them a free goodbye treat…smoothies. They were delicious. Mahalo to Kait and the staff at the Queens Surf Cafe and Lanai for making our luau, brunch and culinary experiences so wonderful. The food we shared that whole week was simply divine!

Walking back towards the hotel in the rain showers, Deb and Maddy would stop occasionally to take a picture or two. They sat on the pier across from their hotel and just spent some more time talking. Eventually, they made their way across the street to Lulu’s restaurant for one final drink before Maddy had to leave.  They toasted to friendship and a once in a lifetime trip. They were so glad they got to share it with everybody they had met that week. They left Lulu’s and went back down to the lobby of the Park Shore to wait for Maddy’s shuttle. They met up with their new Aussie friend, Jen McLeod and talked a while longer. 

Soon enough, it was time for Maddy to leave. Her airport shuttle had arrived.  More tearful good-byes were said and Maddy was on her way. Even though the shuttle was full, Maddy said it was a tearful, lonely ride back. Once at the airport she found a quiet spot to sit and plug in her laptop for some twitter and Facebook time. Finally it was time to board her long flight home. Aloha Hawaii, hello New Jersey...or so she thought. After finally boarding the plane her flight began pulling away from the terminal. The plane stopped taxing. Her pilot came over the PA and told them they were going back to the gate. There was a malfunction in the air conditioning on the plane. Everybody left the plane. They sat in the waiting area in Honolulu airport for what seemed like an eternity. It was only an hour. Happily, she started texting her friends to let them know she may be staying for another day if they couldn't get the problem fixed. Unfortunately that was not to be. A customer service rep came on the PA to advise the AC was fixed and the flight was ready to go. Damn! Foiled again!  Maddy boarded the plane again, texted.
Being the last one to leave, Deb found herself on her own. A few friends let her know they’d be around if she needed anything before her flight. Since her flight didn’t leave until late that evening, she decided to hike up Diamond Head. Unfortunately, the trails were closed for maintenance. She decided to head down to Queens’s Beach one last time to soak up some sun. After that she headed to the Diamond Head Health Club for another delicious acai bowl. (Damn, and no Alex sighting)

Before going to meet her shuttle, she stopped to take one last sunset picture featuring the fountain we laid our lei upon earlier that day. She made her way across Kalakaua Avenue for the last time, got her luggage and made her way onto her airport shuttle. Tearfully, she headed for the airport like the three of us before her. With sand still in her hair she boarded her plane home. She didn’t remember even taking off. Once she got to her seat, she fell fast asleep until she hit her connecting flight in Phoenix, all the time dreaming of her amazing vacation.

We all felt a sense of depression when we got home. So many new friends met and memories made that week. One week in paradise and so much damn fun together. How could that week be topped? Back to our realities and our family life. We can all say this about our whole adventure....Hawaii has captured a piece of our hearts. If that's what Aloha spirit is all about, then we want some more. Mahalo to the Ohana who shared this adventure with us. We can't wait to see you all next year for SOTB 3. 
Aloha...for now