Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Whatcha Doing Wednesday: Holiday Projects

What a busy week it has been. Last Thursday I launched The Traveling Teacups: A Creative Community for Military Families. It is a blog aimed towards projects that military families can do, such as PCS projects (activities during moves), organizational projects, make and take meals for socials and gatherings and more.

We also spent the week with Navy friends who came to town to visit family (which included us!) 

We also went to a tree farm and got a Christmas tree and took all the decorations out of the attic ... Um, we have a lot.

After we put the tree up, and set out other decorations, I started working on a Christmas tree skirt. As readers from last year mayrecall, our tree is (mostly) Mickey Mouse themed and Idid a lot of ornaments last Christmas. This year I decided to go a step further and make a tree skirt. This is my progress so far. (These 5 are actually sewn together now, just have 3 more panels.)


I made the circles using Quiltsmart fusible interfacing with circles. So easy!! And with small and large circles, I can get two circles from each, so a panel of fusible has 12 circles, so I actually have 24! 


I am so excited, I hope to get this done and then do the panel of gingerbread men! I have other projects on the to-do list as well, such as the Pumpkin Seed quilt.

I'll post photos when I'm finished!

Until our next cup of tea ...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Checking In, Keeping Busy ...

Hello friends! Sorry I have MIA for a bit. I finally took the plunge. With so much encouragement, prodding and interest in the creation of a Creative Community for Military Families I finally decided it was time. So since November 1, I have been busy moving all the the posts from this blog that we've posted in the past month the the new blog and am getting ready to launch the blog Thanksgiving Day.

I am excited to put it mildly and apprehensive to put it honestly.

I've got so many ideas and hope that eventually I can get some guest bloggers to keep things fun!

This will return to my personal creative outlet and I am so excited. I've been conflicted about putting stuff that was about what I was working on while I was trying to get an idea of the kind of interest there is in a military family one.

Switching to the personal side, I am super excited about the start of the holiday season. Christmas music on the radio inspired me as I finish Thanksgiving projects and start looking ahead to Christmas. Yeah!!

This was the latest wine shades for our formal table decor. I loved this vintage-y fabric and it really matched the centerpiece mat.

This past weekend, my husband and I enjoyed a night out and attended the Alley Theatre's Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It was great and seeing Houston at night is always a treat!

Well, off to work on some projects! Until our next cup of tea ...

Friday, November 1, 2013

You Saw It Here First: FA Edmunds Stitches Up Fun

It has been a busy week and a half for me. First I prepped for then worked at the International Quilt Market. This is such as great event, where hundreds of vendors in the quilting and creative arts industry come together to show off their latest and greatest products. While I spent lots of time working in the booth for my "day job", I did get to walk around and explore.

In my last post I briefly profile my choice for Top 5 Vendors to Watch For. Another company that was also at Market was FA Edmonds Co. I've worked with the company on several occasions. Edmunds has spent more than 50 years manufacturing needle and quilting frames and accessories. Recently, I had the chance to explore a little more into their products. 

Many creative arts projects that I do involve some sort of stitching or embroidery. I just enjoy needlework. With a variety of sizes and shapes of frames, its easy to find one that fits your needs. I really enjoyed trying my hand with the various hoops and can tell you that I have had a version of their Quilters & Stitchers No-Slip Hoop Tape on my hoops for a while now - both hand and machine hoops. Love it!

I've always loved a good sturdy hand hoop because it it one of projects that travel easily during those PCS moves. I remember being stuck in a hotel room at 8 months pregnant waiting on housing paperwork to clear and being so grateful for zippered bags of stitching projects. I switched easily between one or another whenever boredom set in and having a hoop that could take the stress and restlessness of a bored pregnant woman was crucial.

I will change my hoop to larger or smaller size depending on the project that I was working on and the fact that the Edmunds hoops I have stack inside each other will definitely make future moves less painful since can pack more efficiently and have multiple grab-n-go projects on hand to keep me entertained.


I would have to say that the one product that I have added to my wish list is the Antique Thread Keeper, and organization tool that had rods to hold thread and a drawer for additional storage. Most military family members will agree that organization is important, though maintaining organization may often be a wish of its own.
At the International Quilt Market I had time to talk to some of the representatives who attended and I was impressed with the teams' willingness to answer questions, and their knowledge in making sure that I found the products that were right for me.
One day, when military life lets us settle down more, I would love to work on a huge project on a floor hoop, but that is on the list for the future. 
The F.A. Edmunds line now includes hoops, frames and stands used for quilting, cross stitch, needlepoint, tapestry, crewel, latch hook, embroidery and punch needle embroidery. Edmunds' brand can be found in specialty chains, stitchery catalogs, internet outlets and independent retailers throughout the US, Canada, Europe, South and Central America and Asia. So for military families stationed overseas, you can find then near you as well.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trial Run ... A Time of Transition

Many of my long time readers know that this blog started as a personal journal of creative arts projects, goals and more. I took a hiatus when my little guy was born and only recently started back, but the reason I returned to blogging was not known. For the past month, I have been working with some people over the years who thought that an informal website that combined the creative venue for creative art enthusiasts and projects, tips and profiles for those who live in a continuous transition of military life.

So I've finally decided that we'd give it a try. Its something that I advocated for when I was young military wife looking for others who were inspired to be creative, who were looking for projects to keep them busy while facing deployments, or those who wanted create memories with their families to last them through long seperations and other hard times.

For now, we will test ideas, themes and gather feedback here at the Teacup Collector's Cottage with the goal of creating a site that goes beyond my personal blog. For years I loved teaching classes through the Army Community Service Center and as a Family Readiness Support Assistant. It is some of my greatest memories through those darks days when my own husband was deployed. From FRG meetings to informal gatherings as a friends, and even making thank you gifts for volunteers, crafts and creative activities was a link to my Army Wife sisters.

So let the journey begin. I will slowly start to pull off the older posts from my pesonal activites, but if there is something you like or want to revisit, please let me know and we can do a tutorial. So from the Kid's Creative Corner to the Grab-n-Go Projects, from budget friendly to time-crunch, its time to find out how we can harness our creativity whether we are in military housing or stuck in a hotel.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Fabulous Finds at the 2013 International Quilt Market!

Well, yesterday concluded 3 days of the International Quilt Market and I had so much fun! This year I visited a lot of booths and from creativity to products to customer service there were a few that stuck out in my mind.

There were many great booths and products at market but the thing that struck me as great about these products is that they are all projects or products that are either easily transported or are quick and easy or require minimal prep. As a military wife, whose life is always in one stage of transition or another, that is important. From being stuck in a hotel room, to moving to a smaller house, or trying to help my child feel comfortable in a new bedroom, I've faced many challenges of trying to maintain creativity where military mobility is a factor.

Here are a few of my choices for Vendors of Note:

1. Stella Lighting: Stella Lighting had a booth next to us, so I not only hear a lot about their products but also saw the genuine happiness of the staff in talking about their products. Stella Lights are designed to help quilters and creative arts enthusiasts achieve the highest level of potential in each project. Whether you use a floor lamp, table top or prefer one that clamps to your workstation, these flexible, low heat lamps are perfect for working on your project late into the night. I definitely recommend that you check out the line of Stella lights ... They may just be the light at the end of the tunnel!

2. The Quilt Company: Its not secret that I love teacups and teapots. The Quilt Company has some easy and beautiful quilt patterns that combine teapots and cottages ... Adorable in multiples! Birdhouses, barns teapots and more will cause your heart to melt with these quilt patterns. Warm your home this winter with Peppermint Place or welcome Spring early with Lovebird Lane. Each quilt set is a sweet treat!

3. KimberBell: So cute! I passed their booth on the way to mine this morning and just had to stop. There are two "projects" that really jumped out at me at their booth. The first was the "KimberBell Cuties"! These quick and easy projects are so cute and the only thing quicker than making them, is changing them out with the seasons! Speaking of changing things out ... I LOVED the Whimsey Winter Bench Pillow. Not only is it an adorable trio of winter friends, but it is one of many patterns that allow for interchangeable covers for the pillow! My husband will be so happy that I don't collect pillows that only sit out a month or so a year! It'll be so much easier to store pillow covers than actual pillows. I had the chance to talk with Kim and I will definitely set aside time in the future to talk to her more about how small projects like these can help military families make memories and create comfort!

4. Anthology Fabrics: I love Anthology Fabrics. I was first introduced to the Anthology strips a few months ago. Their 2 1/2 Story Strips make it so easy to get started on your projects! There have definitely been times where I've been stuck without a project to do, but getting started on a new one required too much prep. Not only do they have some really great fabrics, I almost feel like I could make a quilt while driving cross country ... with a dog, a few kids, and a carload of household goods in tow! The only problem is that there are so many fabric collections to choose from! Decisions, decisions ... one decision that is easy is you should check them out! 

5. Cherry Blossoms Quilting Studio: I. Fell. In. Love! Cherry at Cherry Blossoms Quilting Studio had so many adorable patterns. I couldn't pick a favorite, but with Christmas around the corner, I'd suggest going to see her wreath and Christmas tree- it'll put you in the mood to sip hot cocoa by the fire! These are definitely projects I'm adding to my list! (Christmas gift hint!)

I think these projects pass the test and I look forward to blogging about some of these projects in the future.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Exploring Quilt Market 2013!

Today was a busy and exhausting day, but most importantly it was fun! I am working at the Bear Thread Designs' booth (1571) at the International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas. There are so many wonderful things to see and explore!

I'll take photos and make a full report on Monday (hopefully), but watch for +MichelleLwrites on Google+ where I'll post updates and check in from a variety of booths!!

If you are at Market, come visit the Bear Thread Designs booth ...

I also got to spend time with a great friend, Mattie @ Quiltsmart! It's been a great start! Let the adventures continue ...

Until our next cup of tea ...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Monster Treats for A Class That's Sweet!!

It has finally arrived! The week before Halloween is one I look forward to each year, because there is such a whirlwind of activity with last minute planning for Halloween events.

Last year was the first time my little one participated in a school organized Halloween activity, for him it was a Trunk-or-Treat followed by a lunchtime party, which I participated in. 

Of course, by then I had built a reputation for crafts artisan with teachers' gifts and holiday treats. (I am a firm believer is showing appreciation for educators.) So I dressed as a gypsy and decorated the back of my SUV with scarves and glad bowls of beads and other colorful and decorative things. It was a hit.

This year, I'm sticking to the classics - a witch - but not scary. But more on the costumes later.

This week, I have been prepping after work and a few days ago made these "monster treats" for him and his classmates. They were so easy. All of the filling - candy, stickers, straws, yo-yos, spinning tops, etc were either from Dollar Tree (love that place) or leftover from last year or goodies bags from his birthday party. If you read my earlier post on the Halloween wreath, you know that's where I got the google eyes as well. The orange cups and lids I got for about $4 at Target (for 15 cups). 

Step 1: Fill Cups with Treats

Step 2: Glue Eyes Onto Outside of Cups

Now you could switch the two steps, but if you use round cups (these were a little square) they may be more likely to roll, so filling first gives then weight and holds them steady. I also used one big candy (Tootsie Roll) to help them stay balanced when laying down. I don't know, maybe I over-thought it, but that was a problem on a previous project.

It also helps to have your "helper" in dress in character ... And he also taste-tested the "lollipops" (he loves saying it right now.)

This was quite a quick project to do and budget-friendly as usual. I didn't put anything in there that couldn't travel well, made sure to balance toy and candy ratio and as usual with kids nowadays, made sure there was nothing with peanuts in it. That is a rule at his school, but also a courtesy (I feel) since kids at this age still don't understand how to monitor for themselves nor the consequences of disregarding a health concern like that.

Until our next cup of "Witch's Brew",

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Play Date Pumpkins!

This past weekend I posted about our trip to the corn maze and all the seasonal beauty we saw there. I also said I'd show you some of the ways we decorated the white pumpkins we got while at the farm. Well, I have been really busy, but I haven't forgotten!

Tuesday our neighbor's son (7 years old) came over to play for a bit, so I let the boys color pumpkins. 

Of course, my 3-year-old can barely sit still for 5 minutes at a time, so he never actually finished one (we continue to work on it), but my neighbor was really in to the project and his turned out great! I was so jealous that he got to take it to his mom! LOL!

(My little guy)

(Neighbor's sone above, his pumpkin below)

I even got in on the action and made a little pink one to put in front of my great grandmother's angel in the formal dining room.


All in all, it was a great project, and really budget-friendly, which you will learn is a big plus for me.

I've got some other great last minute Halloween projects coming in the next few days, so make sure to come back and see how we celebrate this week of Halloween at The Teacup Collector's Cottage!

Until our next cup of tea ...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whatcha Doing Wednesday: Finishing Some Projects

This week I have decided to knock out a few projects. I have a long list of things that are in the works.


I posted about this project when I started it as a demo project when I went to the Wisconsin show in September I absolutely love the way it turned out. Now its off to the quilter- or will go on the next group. I think it may be a week or two before I can send them on their way, because this week starts the two busiest weeks of the year at work.

I've also nearly finished the quilt for my husband. (It's sideways, the stripes will run horizontal). The center block will have a fused black motorcycle. I'm really excited to get this done and off to the quilters! I.m debating if its not wide enough, since our toodler loves to snuggle. I'll have to think on it, but worse case, I just add a wide border all the way around.

Next, I have to do one for my neighbor's husband, although she hasn't gotten the fabric yet. Not sure if she will use the same fabrics as I did or use different ones, but the pattern will be different. Hmm ... I'll keep you posted,

I've got lots of other projects on the board. From Halloween costumes for me and my new niece (only 2 weeks old), to Halloween treats for my lil guy's class and teachers. I'll have some more holiday themed stuff and a few updates coming as well.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Making Memories To Last: Vacation Autograph Display

So this past July we went to Walt Disney World with our neighbors. Because we had been there many times while stationed in Florida and this was their first trip, we offered them a variety of tips.

One was autographs. You can get autographs EVERYWHERE at Disney, though we usually limited ourselves to the classic characters until  this trip because our toddler had only started to watch movies like Monsters, Inc and Cars.

Nearly every store you go into you can buy an autograph book, and we would see so many kids with them, but we kept asking ourselves, what do you do with it once you get home. If the kids play with the book, it gets ruined, and if you put in on a shelf, you don't get to see it. We usually made small scrapbook page squares for characters to sign so our toddler could see them when her looked at his book. (That is a post for a different day!)

This time, since we'd gotten nearly all of them for his scrapbook we did things a little differently. We used the center of a mat board cut-out. Usually you can see if a craft store or frame store will let you buy them at a discount rate since they throw them out. Since I used to cut my own mats when I was working as a photographer, I had a stack left over.

It doesn't matter if the edges are cut at an angle, either. I placed painter's tape around edges, I recommend about 1/2 inch, so that characters' signatures wouldn't go to the edge. They are very good about keeping in the center.

Once we returned from our trip, I looked and looked until I found a frame that we could put the autographs in. Once I found one, we hung it in my son's room. Now we look at it and read the names and remember stories and things that we did while we were at Disney World. You can also get a frame that you can add the autographed board as well as a photo.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A-Mazing Fun at the Corn Maze

My husband and I have been trying to do all those memory-making things that you do when your kids are little. Pictures with Santa and the Easter Bunny, museums, the zoo, etc. So this weekend we decided to pack up and drive north to a place that was suppose to have an huge corn maze!
Neither my husband and I have been to a corn maze, so we were excited! There were tons of things to do from slides to rubber duck races. He ran and played so hard. We rose on the "train" pulled by a tractor, climbed mountains of dirt and tires (I know!), played on bales of hay and explored a pumpkin patch. So much fun.
I will admit that when I try to get those "Kodak" type photos, I always end up frustrated. My kiddo hates to stop for even a moment, so I usually fight him until we are both just done with the whole thing.
All in all, it was a good day. We are all tired and a bit cranky, but bedtime is just minutes away. Here are a few photos from our trip.

We ended up bringing home 10 baby pumpkins. So I'm going to see what ways I can find to decorate them or with them. Maybe if my lil guy is in the aqccomidating mood, we'll color some for you guys to see!!


Until our next cup of tea ...

(The photo below was an accident. I took the photo when trying to help my lil guy pick up a pumpkin that was bigger than he is, but it kind of looked cool!)