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!)


Friday, October 18, 2013

An Adventure to Start the Weekend

Today was a L-O-N-G day. Instead of working at the office/warehouse or at a quilt show, I went with my mom to present a lecture at the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston. What a great group of quilters!!

There were tons of laughs and some great quilts were passed around as we demonstrated Quiltsmart's fusible interfacing and the message of "quilt smarter, not harder".

I've helped my mom make many samples over the years, but the Quiltsmart method is so quick and easy, she's never needed me to jump in to complete them.

I've done some Quiltsmart projects but I REALLY want to do a full quilt. The hardest part is deciding which one! 

I love the Zig-Zapps Blossoms & Petals and Gingerbread Dolls ... And might try the Cars & Trucks for my lil guy.

But the quilts ... Hmm ... My list would include the (small) 38" Lonestar, Mary's Flower Garden and the Ohio Rose for sure! Oh, I could be locked in my craft room for days!!

After the lecture, we packed up, had lunch, then headed home to do some more prep work for The International  Quilt Market, about a week away.

On the way to pick up my lil Monkey at school there was a beautiful rainbow, so I thought I'd share! 

Have a great weekend! 

Until our next cup of tea ... 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crafty on a Budget: I Want My Mummy!

This was a quick and easy project, but the best part was it was cheap!! 

I'd seen these glass candle holders wrapped in gauze and made to look like mummies, but I really wasn't looking forward to paying $3-$5 for the gauze, about the same for glass candle holders, and eyes from the craft section. It could get pricey after a few.

But one day I was at the Dollar Tree looking at Halloween stuff. When I was there I noticed they had some gauze and thought I would finally get to try the Mummy Candle Holders! 

I got a few glass candle holders, a pack of gauze and a bag full of "googly eyes". $4 and 10 minutes was all it took! Now I want to find some clear plastic cups to try it on for my son's classroom! His teacher is always asking me if I want to do some fun stuff for decorations!

** Note: I use electric candles in mine because I have a toddler. The orange and black plasric ones were darker than the white plastic ones.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rockin' the Old School Style at Work

Ha! I am seriously bring back a classic at work today. We are working on quilt samples at Bear Thread Designs, for our booth at the International Quilt Festival. I wonder if I can wear these at the show!!

When I got them, I told my husband, "I got them for only $5!" To which he replied, "You paid $5 for those!?!" Guess he doesn't know style!! 

Whatcha Working on Wednesday: Getting Started on my Christmas List

Ah, another mid-week review! It's so refreshing to think "fun" thoughts in the middle of the week. Yesterday was quite tough day for me, so focusing on this post helped me while I was at work counting down the minutes until I could go get me little guy.

His school was on lockdown due to a potential threat, so I was trying to not freak out.

I started working on a quilt for my husband for Christmas. I found this die-cut motorcycle when I was working at a Quilt Show in Colorado. I knew I had to make it for my husband.

Our neighbor is also a motorcycle enthusiast, so his wife asked me to make one for him too. So I will eventually make a second one. 

Actually, it doesn't look like it will take much time to finish, I just have to do it secretly and ... My craft room is co-located with my husband's study!

I found the fabric by chance. I had gone to Hobby Lobby to look for decorations and stuff for other projects. I got stuck there during a storm and headed to fabric department and found these fabrics. A few strips later, I am almost done!

I am also working intermittently on my Round Robin. Another update coming on that, probably next week.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Creative Classroom

I love creating things from recycled items and apparently so does my toddler's school. They are always looking for things the kids can use in creative play or the teachers can use in lessons or decorations. I have been bringing leftover things from work for about 8 months now (with the blessing of my bosses of course!). The centers from packaging tape rolls (which the kids use as bracelets), left over packaging paper from when we receive supplies, cardboard dividers and packaging, old beads and bells ... the list goes on and on.
Recently, I dropped off about 10 of these thick tubes that were empty to my son's teacher. Well, on a rainy day, while the kids were stick inside she was looking for something new for them since outside wasn't an option. She found the tubes and gave them to them to color on. Apparently, they kids didn't get one each, they just stay in the creative center and the kids color them over and over, they put them on their arms and pretend they are robots, and make bridges and stuff out of them.

She said the kids really enjoy them. Later on they may use them for tree trunks or something else like a vase for Muffins with Mom, but I love that they are just using things over and over and over again!

Until our next cup of tea ...