Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ghosts, Ghouls and Goblins Come Early!!

Growing up my family did not celebrate Halloween, based on religious beliefs. When I reached adulthood and was living on my own, I made the decision to decorate, even if I didn't celebrate by trick-or-treating. I did dress up in college, so maybe that counts as "celebrating". Then I met and married a man who loved it so much, it soon became OUR favorite holiday!
Over the years we celebrated by dressing up, handing out candy and decorating. Soon, I started to plan ahead so that I could further enjoy the holiday with a variety of craft projects. Over the years, there are a few that have emerged as favorites ...

 Decorative Spider Charger 

 All Eyes On You Wall Art

 Quiltsmart Wine Glass Shades

Gauze Ghosts

This year is no different. Halloween is two months away and I am already itching to get started on some Halloween and Fall projects. A wreath might be on the list this year, I have a "Fall" one, but a Halloween one might be a fun addition, we have 2 front doors.

I want to cross stitch some kitchen towels and throw pillows as well. I haven't stitched a project in a while, since I've been focused on quilting. Although, with Quiltsmart, I can make some quilt quilted pillow tops as well. Hmm ... so many options ...

On Friday, my husband didn't have class (law school) because of the Labor Day holiday, so he joined me as I started to drop off the Fall Quilt Issue of TEAinTEXAS. When we stopped for lunch, we went across the street to Barnes & Noble and that's where I found this little treasure ...

I am so excited to get started on some of these adorable cross stitch projects. There is an owl that is absolutely adorable and there is a really cool skull piece as well. I'll keep you posts on my Fall projects ...

Until our next cup of tea ...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Operation Organization: Taking Back My Workspace

Sunday was a productive day, at least on the craft side of things. I cleaned and organized the extra room which serves as hubby's office, my office, craft room and thanks to a bad attitude by our resident 4-year-old, storage for confiscated toys. 

It was a bit of bad timing actually. Shortly after I pulled all of my craft projects out of the far corner of the room and created a desk using some inherited side tables, the lovable but stubborn junior resident in the house had a HUGE meltdown over being asked to clean up the toys in the play area and Daddy boxed it all up and put it in the spot where the side tables had been - which is where I was planning to put the shelf and craft project boxes. 

So for the past few months, I have had all my working craft projects - quilting, cross stitch, etc. - on the floor next to the desk with the sewing machine. It was definitely cramped working space this summer, but yesterday Monkey spent the day with the grandparents and hubby had to get some homework done for law school. 

That means I had a few hours of "me time"!! So I decided that if I was going to move forward with the list of half-finished projects.

We'll lately, we'd also noticed that our son was a toy-ninja, sneaking into the office and scampering off with toys from the punishment pile when we weren't in there. He was like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter - only it was toys under his bed.
You see that pile against the wall with the blue bin and other toys in a pile? When I got around to cleaning Sunday, it was only that blue bin left, and it was merely half full. Well, at least I know what toys I can get rid of without causing a big fight.
So, I sorted through the pile (in the front right) which was the creative stuff - quilting, cross stitch, scrapbook, etc. I got the individual quilting projects and all their fabrics and notions each in their own little bin (I love the Container Store!). Each cross stitch project was each put in a bag with all its floss and necessities and gathered in one large canvas bin (which was pink and on clearance for 70% off a few months ago.)
Then after sorting though all the stuff my mom like to "give me", meaning stuff she has and doesn't want, my creative work space was back in order and I spent a little playing and enjoying the new look.
Well, not that has made me want to go play in my fresh new workspace, so if you need me, I'll be in that chair on the right!
Until our next cup of tea,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Quiltsmart Introduces New Projects to Fall in Love With!!

As some may know, my husband has spent the past 10 years in the Army, and deployed several times (more than 5, so I stopped counting!) In those 10 years I have spent plenty of time making banners, signs and more ... for the house, for the vehicle, to hold at the redeployment ceremony ... well, you get the idea. When I saw the new pattern, I knew this was definitely something that would've made those nights before his return easier ... though I still would have been sleepless with nerves.

Today, Quiltsmart released the information on their newest pattern, Banner Flags and Raw-Edge Letters, on their blog. With more than 4 new projects and patterns in 2014, I am trying to stay focused on the projects I have on my sewing table now because I am so excited to try many of the new ones! EEk!! {Deep breathes ...} But this one, I had to try right away!

From the Quilsmart Blog:
The printed fusible interfacing Quiltsmart is known for has made making your own banner flags easier than ever.  They are sure to be uniform in size and shape every time, and they sew up quickly!
To make these great banner flags, simply fuse interfacing to the wrong side of your desired fabric, put another fabric of choice right sides together with the now fused fabric, and sew on solid lines.  You will then cut on the dashed lines, and add bias tape or binding strips measured to fit. (Photo below courtesy of Quiltsmart)

Of course, when Mattie sent meet some panels and asked if I wanted to try them, I said, "YES!!" 

Ok, to be honest it included a back-and-forth email conversation between Mandy, the Quiltsmart Marketing team member and I that involved a lot of "OMG! It's so cute!", and "I can't wait to see what you do with it!" or "I have this one project I want to try with these ..." Looking back, I think we sounded a bit like teen girls at a One Direction Concert ... or NSync, NKOTB ... At least there were no tears because we were "so happy this moment had come". 

So of course, I thought it was the perfect thing to use to decorate our formal dining room for winter holidays, which is more elegant than the rest of the "family-friendly" d├ęcor in our home. I love decorating with my own creations, but "formal" and "elegant" tend to scare me. 

Halfway though, as with many of the Quiltsmart patterns, I had a "brilliant idea"! 

I used the "sew, flip and fuse" technique with some poinsettia fabric, and turned them into Christmas trees, topped with a star from the ZiggZapp! series. Then I fused them onto a piece of background fabric and **PRESTO!!** I had a matching table centerpiece or wall hanging if you wanted.

In the end, I fell in love with another Quiltsmart pattern that I am sure I will find many creative used for in the future. In the past week, since my little one has started Pre-K, I have learned that carpool line is the perfect place to brainstorm about new projects and ideas. I guess it's a good idea to always have a notebook handy!!

Until our next cup of tea ...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's So Close I Can See It!!

We are just days away from the TEAinTEXAS Fall Issue hitting distributors and newsstands and I am so excited!! As the quilting coodinator this is my favorite issue because it is the QUILTING Issue, as the Assoc. Editor, Gulf Coast I am excited because we have some fun Fall activities and events that roll in with the cooler weather. However, you can PREVIEW it early here at the Teacup Collector's Cottage in a digital format before they hit the stores.

This issue I wrote the Letter from the Editor and took a few minutes to share the power of tea and quilting through my experiences. I can honestly say that each issue is my favorite in that as I turn each page I am still inspired by the stories, advertisers, highlights and more. The staff at TEAinTEXAS have built longlasting relationships with our partners and work to bring you the best that Texas and the Gulf Coast States have to offer, whether you are traveling or exploring your own community.  

This year you have seen some of these inspirations comes to life as I blogged about my crafts, exploring and other random whims, many inspired by TEAinTEXAS. I have spent the past 10 years exploring the communities where military life has taken us and am excited at the chance to explore my own backyard now.

Feel free to peruse the pages of the Fall Issue of TEAinTEXAS and let me know what inspires you!

Until our next cup of tea,

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Getting Back to Familiar Places

So my little guy is officially in school and now I have to decide what to do with myself during the day. His school is more than an hour from our home via a toll road, so going back home to work is not really time or financially responsible. That leaves me with the task to find a place near his school to work when I am not out meeting with potential clients or the magazine staff.

I've visited a few coffee shops, tea rooms and cafes, but it feels awkward to work on something like research or writing when people are walking in and out beside me. Yes, I know people do it and yes, I have done it at times, but to do it every day gets a little unnerving, not to mention expensive if I am buying a drink or snack every day.

So yesterday, after a brief search I found my way to local public library.  Now I will admit, it has been a while since I walked into a library. I was a regular at base libraries before Monkey was born, and after he came along we did attend toddler reading or play times, but the past year or so his energy is too much to be contained and silenced at a library ... somedays I think is energy is too much for one large outdoor park to contain, but that's a different story ...

I found a public library about 5 minutes from school, so the short drive is a bonus. I think mostly I was surprised with how many people were there. I am a avid reader so books are a comfort to me, but in daily life I run into a lot of people who don't have time to read, don/'t find it fun, or actually hate the idea of sitting down and reading. I really was expecting very few people here, or at least those who were here would be on the computers. 

There were moms here with a few kids at tables in the book sections, some teens filling out collage and job applications, and quite a few people who were "non-traditional" students - people taking classes online, using the free internet or wi-fi for research or studying with someone.

It's great to see people using their local libraries. Though this one doesn't seem to be at the top of the list for updating and maintenance funding, speaking with a few librarians gave me the sense that there was pride in its care.

I think what disappointed me was the number of people talking on their phone, sitting at study tables and Skyping or on FaceTime. I understand if your phone rings and you answer to tell the caller you will return their call later, I did that when the handsome hubby called, but one lady sat in the chair next to me and had a full conversation in another language to include laughing ... and she was NOT using her inside voice. There was also the guy on Skype who was making kissy-faces and smooching and professing his love to the person on the computer ... let me just say that was awkward to stumble upon.

All in all I think I'm going to enjoy this little slice of heave tucked under the oak trees. Today, I managed to find a little corner table and there I sat with a row of books to my back, a window looking out over the busy street and a full view of rows and rows of books being investigated by patrons.

Not a bad spot ... All I need is a nice cup of tea ...

There was is older gentleman who asked to share my small round table with me and at first I thought it would be awkward, but her just sat there for an hour or so quietly writing inspirational poems and such by hand from a book. He seemed really at peace. And when it was time for me to leave and go get Monkey, he seemed sad that I was leaving and wished me a blessed day. I was kind of sad too, because I enjoyed the quiet company.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A New Adventure Awaits!!

It's official: We are now the parents of a "school-ager". Yesterday, Pre-K started with a few smiles, followed by tears, but the smiles returned quickly once he started to meet his classmates. 

Though he'd been at an education-based learning facility for the past 2 1/2 years, I think because it was a new school and we made such a big deal out of it, he felt like he was taking a new step.

He must've had conficting feels because all summer he has been asking when was he starting his new school but a few night the past 3 weeks he's woken up saying he doesn't want to grow up, because he won't fit in our house. I'm not sure what that is all about, but hopefully once he get's settled the bad dreams will stop.

I am excited about the level of involvement the parents have at this school, both at the school and with each other. From hosting the Fall Festival to have monthly luncheons, book clubs and support groups around the city, there are a lot of things to choose from. You know Book Club was the first thing I signed up for, but I also volunteered to help in the classroom and library. 

I am excited about the projects that I'll be able to do throughout the year for the kids, the teachers and the school. Come back to see what fun things we've got planned!

Let the adventure begin!!

Until our next cup of tea ... 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Got My Owl!!

Yesterday I got a surprise in the mail. Well, not really a surprise, but a treat. Actually, anything that comes in the mail that is not bills or sales flyer is a treat, but you get the idea.
Last week I finally ordered some charms and a chain for my living locket from Origami Owl.  I'd been introduced to Origami Owl or O2 at a Women's Conference that my former law firm was particpating in as a vendor, about 2 years ago. I bought a living locket and two charms. I loved it and so did my co-workers and friends who saw it. A few asked me to host a party, but the closest rep we could find was about an hour away.

Recently, however, a longtime friend of mine, Korin, told he she has signed up to be a Origami Owl Designer. I was so excited! Let's the shopping begin!!

Last week I order two more charms and a chain, and today they arrived! They were even better than I thought! Of course, I had to get a tea cup (or coffee depending on how tired I am) and a white flower to remind me of all of the beautiful places we visited on our 10 year anniversary cruise.

When I put it all together, it was perfect! Well, almost ... Within hours of getting the charms, I was back on the website, making a wish list ... I mean I definitely need a blog charm, right!?!

I guess the packaging was right then, happiness found me! {sigh} They just get me! If you don't have a Origami Owl rep, definitely check out Korin's Origami Owl page.


Until our next cup of tea ...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Quiltsmart Rescue

Hopefully you are enjoying the Quiltsmart posts. I am very excited about the projects and having so much fun with them. A few set backs, but it's less stressful when I have multiple projects to work on. I hate when I am so focused on one project, if I come to a problem like fabric shortage or running out of the correct thread, it derails the entire day!

So yesterday, I was working on my medallion for my solo Round Robin and despite being pinned to the fabric the printed interfacing was snagging on the bottom of the foot on my machine. The previous 20+ pieces I had sewn had no issue. But things happen and it made this piece all puckered and wobbly (technical term!). My Mom thorized that the bobbin had gotten snagged on something internally because the stitches got really close together in some parts. 

Since I hadn't changed the foot, stitch, tension, etc., it seemed plausible. I was worried about how to proceed since this was a centerpiece that the "feathers" revolve around. So my options were:

Discard the piece and go on without it (Quickest method)
Replace it with a ZigZapp circle or other shape (Easiest method)
Carefully try rip the stitches and salvage the interfacing and fabric (Chaleenging method)

Mom and Mattie have both said that the interfacing is stronger than it appears, so as long as I was careful it would be o.k. 

So in the end, I was able to fix the problem. Obviously, its not something you'd want to do often, but at least ypu don't have to scrap a project because of a mistake!

Until our next cup of tea ...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Woody Woodpecker Lives in Our Trees

We have some pretty big holes in our trees made by woodpeckers ... Jamie is intrigued by them because he hears them but never sees them.

They are sneaky little buggers, I rarely see them myself but they are always out there just knocking on wood!!

I've made references to Woody Woodpecker but he's too young so maybe we will have to find some old cartoons for him to watch. The holes and lines are pretty artistic but sadly they bugs are killing our poor tree. We've had a few yard maintenance days where we had to trim it back so the dead parts don't affect the healthy parts.

Just another random adventure in our own backyard!

Until our next cup of tea ...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! A Proclaimation!

I have declared it The Year of Quiltsmart! Seriously, I have so much interfacing that I have purchased or been gifted from the owner, Mattie, over the past 2 years or so and I have a list of projects I have been wanting to do. 

Mattie and my Mom, who owns Bear Thread Designs, have worked together for years, friends almost from the start. As we all do, we help our mom's friends nearly as much as our own moms, so sometimes when I help Mattie she will pass along printed interfacing that was pulled from stock because it was printed wrong, or too light, or other minor imperfections. I guess she thinks I'm too old to reward with ice cream (I'm not Mattie!!)

Anyway, last weekend as I was looking for a particular fabric I decided this year (meaning school year) was going to be Quiltsmart Project Year!! I'm a little excited! 

Wednesday night I was watching reruns with my husband of our favorite show and decided to multi-task and organize some of my craft room stuff, which ended up being organizing and sorting my Quiltsmart printed interfacing ... 

Thursday night, I was able to finish sewing the pieces of the Princess Feather Medallion to their fabric and all except 3 pieces were flipped and ironed. Hope to finish that this weekend so I can get the medallion sewn down and be ready when the Round Robin meets in September.

Last night, I worked on the design and plan for a floral quilt, using Quiltsmart ZigZapps. I even started sewing because  this quilt is one that I am very excited about. It's one that I have wanted to mimic from a quilt my mother has from a class. Since it was applique, I didn't even attempt it, but I found a way to recreate it with Quiltsmart! 

So, um, yeah. Now you know I am a project-hopper. I usually work on about 3 projects at a time, rotating to whatever project hits me when I walk into the room. I actually get projects done.

I'll keep you posted as the projects progress.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Picking Back Up On These Patriotic Projects

This past weekend, life finally slowed down long enough for me to pull my chair up to the sewing machine for a little stress-relieving sewing. First I did a little organizing, my craft stuff is in a pile since we added a third workspace to our office/craft room once I started working from home for the magazine ... but the craft shelf was put on hold when our little guy had one too many tantrums about picking up his toys and Daddy boxed everything up and put it in the office. It didn't affect him at all. It's been three months and he hasn't missed the toys at all. {sigh}

So for now, everything craft-related is still in boxes until we can sort through and get rid of the toys and he earns the rest back with helping us around the house, but more on that later.

While I was looking through the boxes, trying to find something to work on (trust me there were quite a few half-finished to choose from). I found a small group of triangles made from strips. So I started sewing them together.

The stripes were going in various directions and I ended up with three different blocks in the end.
I made two of these ...

... Six of these ...

... And two of these ...

The way I cut them was random and not by any pattern, rather a passing thought that was apparently interesting enough for me to make a bunch of strips and sewed them together, then cut. Unfortunately, I cannot find the notes I'd made to allow me to make more, so that's why I was left with triangles in a pile. But not to waste them, I decided to sew them together and see what inspiration I would find. After staring at this random group of blocks, I think I've got an idea of what I'd like to with them now.

This small flag was made around the same time as the strips. I used a star from Quiltsmart, and I think I may make some more of these for a small table topper or something ...
Well, I'll keep you posted on the progress of these projects and more ...
Until our next cup of tea ...