Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Mis-Adventures of the Holiday Travelers

Well, it has been 1 week and 1 day since my last post, and so much has happen. Some planned adventures, and some not so planned misadventures.

I left off with a post about going home the week before Thanksgiving and showing my son where I grew up abnd making memories wiht my grandma like I did as a child. On Saturday, we had an impromptu potluck gathering of about half of my siblings (well 5 of the 12 of us). My dad and grandmother also joined us. It was so fun to sit around, swapping recipes, tell jokes, and watching the cousins play, something my little guy doesn't get to do since he doesn't have any near us his age. (I have 2 cousins in their early 20s, then he was the next baby, about 16 years apart.)

We grilled G-Ma on her recipe and technique for the Jambalaya she'd made the day of our arrival. Getting her to sit still long enough to write down a recipe, so we all peppered her with questions while she sat and watched us finish cooking. I made notes amid the laughter, and with a little clarification later that day, we ended the weekend with one of G-Ma's secrets. Not bad. Now, I just have to remember to send it to all the sisters, sister-in-laws and cousins.

(I think my younger sister, called Moo-Moo by the little ones - is a kid-whisperer. She definitely has a magical touch.)

The Lil Monkey and I came back home on Monday and turned around Tuesday morning and accompanied my dear hubby to Fort Polk, for some Army-related appointments he had for that day. The plan was to drive up that morning, take care of the meetings and get some uniform stuff he needed and some alterations. We had hoped to meet up with some friends and then head back home the same day.

Unfortunately, about 30 minutes from the Army base, in the back roads of Burkeville, Texas, a deer ran out in front of my husband's truck and though none of us were hurt, the truck was damage beyond being driveable. 

Not to get into the long story of it all in this post, we ended up having to stay overnight at the base - totally unprepared for that adventure. When we finally were able to find a rental car and come home the next day, I realized that we'd have to get creative sharing my Tahoe until his truck was fixed. That meant that blogging was put on the back burner because he has law school finals starting next week and has to study at home instead of the library now, so I have to entertain (and distract) our 4-year-old. 

We did have some adventures which I will get posted this week, barring any more surprises, to include a trip to the Christmas Tree Farm, a Pinterest (Almost) Fail and more.

Thanks for visiting The Teacup Collector's Cottage.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Travel Back Home, Travel Back in Time

These two photos make my heart melt. The first is when my patnernal grandmother met Jamie for the first time at 4 months old. We were living in Florida at the time and had come to Texas for a month to visit family while George was on a trip for the Army. We also made a trip to Lousiana during this time for a week or so where we met my new niece who was a month old at the time.

This second photgraph is from this weekend. George had some studying to do before he could start our weekend activities and so Jamie and I decided to visit my Dad and his side of the family for a few days so he could get it done without interruption. 

Within an hour of arriving, I also learned that one of my grandmother's dearest friends had passed away that morning, it was definitely eye-opening to realize that she is not the young grandmother I still remember from when I was Jamie''s age. It's hard to face the fact that we are all aging and time is not on our side.

Yesterday, we spent quite a bit of time at my grandmother's house, where Jamie played in the same area I did as a child. 

Just like when I was a child, he walked with her to the mailbox to check the mail, something my 11 siblings, 4 cousins and I used to race each other to do when we visited. Of course, we all had the luxury of growing up next door to her, three houses in a row. All together on almost a daily basis.

We also picked acorns, which were HUGE! And she pushed him a little on the old tire swing. We walked around looking at her trees and flowers, inspected the birdhouses and sat on the porch. 

It was truly a memory-making day for him. I'm glad we are taking the time to do this.

Until our next cup of tea ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mommy Humor: Carpool Crafts

Yesterday, I posted about being able to get some projects done despite a full weekend and last week I shared a conversation with Quiltsmart Mandy about life with small children and quilting. Some days are easy and some days are a losing battle. 

The reality is that as a mom of a 4-year-old who walks the fine line of independence and not being able to get  out of bed without Mommy's help, I never know if my creative to-do list will pass his approval. While I struggle to figure out a balance with one child, I stand in awe of moms who dod it while being completely outnumbered by a collection of compact carbon copies who can turn a quiet afternoon into a whirlwind with flurries that rival Mother Nature's best efforts.

But the one thing that most moms learn from that first week they are tasked with caring for these tiny human being who will one day run the world is multi-tasking. Well, that and how to sleep standing up.

Those early years where your child sleeps so little you think you'll never be able to use those new sheets are just building up your tolerance to sleep deprivation because you have to wait until after the little ones are asleep and the husband has settled into the recliner with the remote control. 

"Night Life" takes on a whole new meaning when it comes finding time to finish a quilt in that magical 3-hours window of midnight to 3 a.m. There's something just so magical about ripping stitches in the moonlight.

As a mom, whether you have one or 10 kids, you learn to treasure those free moments of crafting almost as much as those peanut butter and jelly kisses. 

This year my on started school for the first time and I am learning that getting to carpool a little early not only allows me to pick up my son before the older kids carrying large instruments and big backpacks are released and start to slow down the line, but I have a little bit of free time to work on one (or more) projects that I always have in my bag. That bag may look professional with Media Kits and magazine samples, but along side those lay a bag of sewn Quiltsmart projects that need to be cut and flipped, a needlepoint project that just might be finished for Halloween 2015 or bells that need to be strung on ribbon for a Christmas ornament.

So, I have become that mom in the long carpool line, dancing to cranked up country music with a variety of crafting supplies spread out on the passenger seat while she make Christmas ornaments, teachers' gifts, or cross stitching a kitchen towel or baby gift for a new baby.  I'm that mom that has somehow spilled a bag of beads or managed to get glitter all over the steering wheel because she was dancing AND crafting while waiting for the littlest love of her life to come bounding out of school with stories of his latest adventures.

If I see you in the car in front of me trying desperately to untangle a skein of yarn or chasing a loose spool of ribbon across the car, I'll be sure to offer a knowing smile and nod because let's face it, this may be the quietest crafting time  you have the the rest of the day!

Until our next cup of tea ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life and Crafts: A Balancing Act

What a busy weekend we had! It's been a few days since my last post because we really ran around a lot this weekend. Lunch with my parents, trip to a quilt shop where Grammie got to show off the No. 1 Grandchild to her friends, a trip to the store to start our first ever holiday village, with A LOT of input and advice from the littlest among us. Who knew he was such an expert!?!

I was able to get some work started on a variety of projects this weekend, including some work on the next border row for my Lone Robin which is Quiltsmart inspired this year. I can't show you what I am doing, but I can tell you that I am excited about the technique that I am using for this border.

I actually spent a little time throughout the past few days conversing with Mattie and Quiltsmart Mandy about project notes and ideas. So inspirational when you find friends who share the same interests and passions.

There was so much going on event through yesterday and this morning that I am only now getting to sit down and write it all down. In fact, I am sitting here with a fireside seat at La Madeleine, ready to write a book, but I only have time for a blog post or two. Mmm, this tomoato soup is amazing ... Oh, right. I'm on a time limit!!

I also made some Christmas ornaments this weekend and will post as soon as I take photos.

This time of year is filled with so much inspiration everywhere! The past few weeks I have been out delivering the Winter Issue of TEAinTEXAS and I have visited about 5-7 antique shops a week. Just this morning, I visited an antique shop and found a lost treasure that will eventually find a home at my mom's house, but I'll tell you all about it before then.

My list of Quiltsmart projects is growing, but still manageable. There are some quick projects that I will be showing finished soon, and some that will take a little bit more time as my calendar fills with holiday activities. 

Until our next cup of tea ...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Keeping Warm with Christmas Creations

Brr! The cold has finally reached the Gulf Coast with a cold front moving in and waking us with temperatures in the low 40s. While I would've been happy to snuggle under some quilts, we were up and getting ready for the day with only the slightest drag at the prospect of heading out into the chilly winds. 

My little guy fell asleep on the way home from school (45 minute drive most afternoons), so he was slow to wake when I got home. He sat in the biggest recliner and slowly woke up wit the help of a snack and Disney Junior. With my little Monkey settled, I decided it would be a great time to at least get started on the second Quiltsmart Christmas Stocking. 

This time I decided to do a few things different than the last time. I decided to use the same fabric for both sides. I also decided to see how stitching on the cutting line would affect the size since it would add about a 1/4 inch overall. That also meant shifting the hanging loop and remembering to cut about 1/4 inch away from the line.

In 20 minutes I went from a 1/3 yard of Christmas fabric to this: 

Placed side-by-side there was little visual differece, but there was a little more room inside and really, who wouldn't want more room in their Christmas stocking?

Have you tried the Quiltsmart Christmas Stockings? What themes did you choose?

Until our next cup of tea ...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I'm Dreaming of a French Christmas

I'm a bit of a dreamer. Growing up I knew I was a bit of "gumbo" when it came to ethnic background, French, Mexican, Spanish and somewhere there were rumors of a little Hawaiian in the mix, but that could've been a childhood misinterpretation. However, from early on, I romanticized it all. Especially the French part as I grew older ... Paris is link synonymously with romance and French is the language of love.  
A few years ago I found this beautiful pink rose fabric with a French theme. It has white watermarked Eiffel Towers and PARIS and other French wording. I held on to it because the pattern was so large with the roses and I was scared that using it for quilting would diminish the effect of the overall pattern.
Recently at the Houston Quilt Market, I met up with Mattie and the gang from Quiltsmart and one of the projects I added to my collection was The Christmas Stockings. When I got this project, I KNEW that this was something that I wanted to used the fabric for, if only a piece of it.
One of the best things about Quiltsmart is the ease and quickness of even some of the most traditionally difficult patterns. One thing I loved about the Christmas stocking was that it was a quick project.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with "Quiltsmart Mandy" who does much of the social media, marketing and stuff for Quiltsmart. Since we are nearly the same age and both mothers of young children many of our conversations are both professional and personal in nature.
Last night, I tried to get my little guy settled with dinner and a new game on his iPad and thought it was a good time to start this project, which traditionally would take about an hour. This is how my conversation with Mandy went ...

Seriously, we have every intention of actually finishing these projects we start. In our own minds we have created this amazing fantasy where we will come home, cook dinner, clean up a little and the kids will settle down with TV or books or toys and we'll be able to sit down and reward ourselves after a long day of working and caring for family, but them that bubble quickly dissipates with resounding **POP** as our husbands or children come to us in rapid succession with what they believe to be world crisis that the UN Summit would be scared to tackle. In reality they've just forgotten how to do the most basic tasks, like in my little one's case, he cannot go to the bathroom by himself.
So we've decided to make it easier for moms of small children, by creating a formula to help determine how much time will really be required ...
Well, I was finally able to finish the first stocking that I started last night. After I put my son to bed, warmed dinner for my husband (who has been studying for law school finals) and he went to wind down with some TV time. I was truly excited that once I was able to focus, it was done so quickly.
This was the first project that the light bulb didn't click when I read the directions through before starting. As I did each step, I was still thinking, "I'm not seeing how this is going to work", but then in one of the final steps it finally clicked and I was like, "That is truly amazing! I never would have thought of that!"
The completed project turned out even better than I imagined and I am already thinking of a million more ways to make stocking with themes and embellishments. The second one (there are two in a pack) I am doing with traditional Christmas fabric, but I may do more later because they were so quick and fun. I might even be willing to make them for Christmas presents next year (if I can let them go once I make them.)
So what do you think about this addition to my Pink Christmas collection?

I'm hoping to finish the second stocking tomorrow and I'll post once its done.
Until our next cup of tea ...

Editor's Note: This post is dedicated to Mandy, who doesn't sugar-coat my loss of sanity, just reminds me I'm not the only one on a fast train to Crazyville!


Friday, November 7, 2014

I'm Not a Stalker ... I'm a Fangirl

I admit it, I was that teen girl who rolled her eyes when the others squealed over magazine stories of New Kids on the Block, I sighed deeply and wondered at the future of America when I saw a girl cry because she got tickets to the NSync concert and even now, I tease my niece when she does the same over 1 Direction and the other current boy bands. It's not that I didn't love their music as any others of my generation, I just knew they put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of the world. 

Over the years that same ability to overcome "celebrity" awe was put to the test. As a journalist and Public Affairs Office staff member at military installations, I interviewed and escorted celebrities such as Aaron Tippin, Miranda Lambert, Destiny's Child and Gary Sinise (that one almost made my resolve crack and my knees buckle.)  It helped that my first interview ever for the Army PAO was a one-star general who was down to earth and make jokes to put me at ease when he heard it was my first story ever for the military installation.

But then, Quiltsmart came along and all that came tumbling down. I mean, I'd been there when a President visited and another time a First Lady, but this is Quiltsmart!! 

I have to admit, when my mom, who is a semi-celebrity in the quilting industry herself, first introduced me to Quiltsmart because Bear Thread Designs and Quiltsmart were working together on various projects, I was as hestiant as any other quilt teachnique or tool she'd shown be before. When your mom has the standing in the quilting community that mine does, you are either extremely well versued in sewing and quilting or you're hesiatant and unsure because she makes it look so easy and you're all thumbs ... and I am the latter. Sometimes I will ask her a question and the answer is half filled with sentences I don't understand. And I think, "I should know what she is talking about, it's been 20 years!"

So my first Quiltsmart projects were Wine Shades and small things using ZigZapps! I mean, seriously, even I can't screw up a ZigZapp! But when I worked at Bear Thread Designs, my mom would send me home with projects to do from home, like a 58" Lonestar and soon I was hooked. I mean, I trudged through her projects knowing I would only do a paortion of it before turning it over to her to finish for a BTD sample, but oh, boy, did I dream big!

I made lists of projects that I wanted to do, made extensive drawings a designs using Quiltsmart interfacing ... eventually I had a whole binder dedicated to these projects. Projects, patterns, color schemes and more. That list is what led me to deciding to start the "A Year of Quiltsmart" Project. There were so many things I wanted to do and I'd be halfway through a project when I'd get so excited about a new inspiration, that I'd start another.

Just when I thought Quiltsmart couldn't get any better,  I met owner, Mattie ... and Steve. While Mattie is the heart and inspiration behind Quiltsmart, Steve is the encouraging force and sounding board, telling Mattie that if she can dream it, they'd work to make it a reality.

Quiltsmart just makes everything so much easier. I mean to be able to actually start a project and finish it and then stand back and say "Wow, I never thought I could do that, but I did!", has a powerful impact on your project motivation. Pinterest is filled with people who "pin" things they want to do, but know they will never have the courage to try. Quiltsmart is that courage in the form of soft little sheets of printed interfacing. I don't even like traingles and I am working on a hexagon project right now! (As my little one would say in a botched British accent, "What!?! What!?!)

So I guess, I owe apologies to all those girls I rolled my eyes at or pretended to gag when they fell into turmoil over a boy band or celebrity, because I have become one of them. I'm not a stalker, I'm a fangirl. And the reality is, if Quiltsmart had a fanclub, I'd be the president. Is it wrong to want a t-shirt professing my status as a "Quiltsmartie"?

Well, those hexagons won't sew themselves. Until our next cup of tea ...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Round Robin Review

You may remember my post in September about starting my second Round Robin. This year, I am not passing my quilt along, but rather adding each border myself, holding with my theme for the year of "A Year of Quiltsmart". Therefore, I have been labeled a "Lone Robin". I feel like a rogue undercover agent or something.

So you may remember my medallion (center) was a red and green Princess Feather, a retired design by Quiltsmart. For the second row, I used the Watercolor Interfacing (provided in original Princess Feather pattern). I cut 2.5 inch squares and ironed to interfacing then sewed top to bottom, followed by left to right.

After the squares were sewn, I cut them in half across the white part and sewed them onto the medallion, turning it "on point". This was actually the first time I had ever turned a quilt "on point" so I was a bit more excited than a normal person would be (but I never claimed to be normal).

I am really excited about how this project is turning out. Our next meeting is early December, so I need to get started on the second row, which is partially cut. I can't wait to see how it turns out. I'll check in soon wiht updates ...

Until our next cup of tea ...


Monday, November 3, 2014

The End of Another Quilt Show

We closed out the 40th Annual International Quilt Festival with a bang. O.k., maybe not a bang, so much as a clatter (of tea canisters) and a snap (of the plastic bin lids). It was my first year working at the TEAinTEXAS booth and the first year not working at the Bear Thread Designs booth (though I did help set up the booth).

I was excited to see so many quilters who enjoyed tea, many of them actively looking for us and expressing relief upon finding us because we were not in our usual location. This year we had a double booth instead of the regular single booth because in addition to our 25 tea blends, we had tea pots, tea balls, and strainers. 

We also had a large collection of gift items such as a trio tea chest, a 12 Teas of Christmas, both Texas-themed and Quilter's-themed gift sets, and Celebration cups, a papercraft teacup with a teabag and spoon, perfect for stocking stuffers. 

The best part (if you asked me) was the samples! We sampled at least 3 of our teas each day, as well as our DILLectible Dill Dip perfect for cucumber sandwiches and our scones. So much yummy-ness!! 

There were so many booth there and lots of inspiration. I chatted with quite a few friends such as Tea Time Quilting in Houston and Jordan Fabrics. Of course, once again I got fabric from Jordan Fabrics and I fell in love with an apron pattern from Tea Time Quilting, so that's been added to my project list.  

Tea Time Quilting is a TEAinTEXAS partner and were across the aisle from us at the festival, so I'm quite glad they are close by because I fell in love with so much fabric in their booth but both booths were fairly busy the wholes festival so I didn't have much of a chance to shop. I'm not worried, I have to deliver the Holiday TEAinTEXAS issue this week and hopefully will get to pick up some sweet treats.

I think the most amazing and inspirational part of the festival is the quilt display. There was a collection of red and white quilts commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Festival and it was just breathe-taking.

Well, I'm off to go and reorganize my fabric stash since I destroyed it choosing fabrics for the 4 pattern samples TEAinTEXAS sells at the festivals and craft fairs. I'll post photos of those later ...

Until our next cup of tea ...