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May 31, 2014

Batter Up! Time to Rally Around the Home Team!!

Well our little Monkey has just finished his first season of Little League Baseball and it was an experience for us all! He was one of only 3 4 year olds, all who barely made the cutoff age by a month or so. The other 8 kids had played both Sping and Fall of last year in Instructional T-Ball and are moving to T-Ball.

Oh, was fun it was to watch him play, though most of the time he was dancing, practicing to be a Ninja Turtle or Superhero or picking clovers. The three of us moms were assured that all of the others did the same thing at this age, so hopefully next year will be more actual playing.

He was great at hitting and fielding, but once he was bored, other interests took over.

He did swim for about a year (you'll see that in previous posts from 2011) and even spent six weeks in soccer (the coach spent all her time on her phone and we had a lot of "breaks" where the kids sat around.) I decided that I should probably start a scrap book for him with photos and stuff because if I wait too long, it'll just be overwhelming. So I spent a few hours pulling out scrapbook paper I'd collected, sorting through digital photos and ordering prints and gathering notes of what I wanted to do. Finally I was ready to start!! Let the fun begin!!

Here is the first page for baseball. I wanted to get all his team info on there because I'll never remember. I can't even remember kids from his preschool class last year, much less any of his teammates years from now.

Well, I'm off to get some more pages done while he is running errands with Daddy. Ah, the life of a crafty mom!!



Until our next cup of tea ...


May 26, 2014

Experiencing Our First "Palooza" Together

This weekend George and I celebrated out 10 year anniversary and since military life often has us separated for long periods of time, we decided to spend the weekend doing a lot of activities as a family, rather than just the two of us.  

One of the many activities we did this weekend was attend the Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center. It was a first for all of us, though George and I had been talking about it for years. I really love Si-Fi movies and shows, even some books such as Space Western. Though my interests are different than George's in books, we usually enjoy the same movies and shows.

The Comicpalooza was great, we saw so many different characters, artists, collectibles and more. I really was excited to watch Jamie experience everything at such a young age. At 4 he still believes in the reality of super heroes and other characters, and I was interested to see how he'd react to seeing some many different characters, even multiples of the same one. 

He really enjoyed it, and his godparents joined us as well. 

He got a lot of stuff, a plush Batman, his first (Spiderman) comic book, a lightsaber, and more. When we started out for the event I knew I wanted to get him some original artwork. As a former photography artist, it has always been important for me to support other artists, specifically military and  hometown (Houston), as some of my previous posts show.

When we first arrived and I saw all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle art, I thought for sure he's want nearly everything he saw because we are in the process of redoing his bedroom in TMNT. While he liked them all, it was Lego Super Heroes that caught his eye.  

We stopped at a variety of booths, looking at the artwork and making a list of the ones that might make the cut, with the intent of choosing one before we left. But we stopped at one particular booth, with artist Oliver Banks, and he's complete and total focus on Jamie and answering his questions and listening to the rambling stories of a 4-year-old made me completely convinced that this was the artist where we would get something from. He even patiently laughed and waited while Jamie changed his mind, 2 or 3 times before deciding on "Lego Superman" and "Lego Batman". 


After we left the booth and walked around a little more, Jamie and his plush Batman were called over to a table by an artist, who handed him a piece of cardboard with a marker sketch of Batman and gave it to him. He said he was waiting for a kid who loved Batman to give the sketch. We were so stunned and thanking him profusely, we forgot to get the artist's name! Yep, total failure, but we are going to try to figure it out via the signature and I'll try to reach out to some of my contacts in Houston to see if they can help. Not really my area of expertise, but I've found that the Marketing Industry can leave you surprised sometimes.

All in all, it was a great adventure and Jamie even got to take a picture with Spider-Man! What a treat!!! All in all, we are so excited to be able to explore our own hometown after years of exploring where the Army sent us, and we are are already talking about next year!



Well, until our next cup of tea,


Even Mommy and Daddy found something to take home ...





May 11, 2014

English Tea in the Heart of Cajun Country

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity as my little road trip buddy and I drove to Louisiana to spend a few days celebrating my niece's birthday, meeting the newest niece and nephew as well as catching up with my sisters and celebrating being moms.

One of the best activities was introducing my sisters and youngest nieces to the English Tea Room in Covington, LA. I'd never been before, but working at TEAinTEXAS has given me the opportunity to visit many tea rooms, and I was excited to visit a new one and inviting my sisters was a bonus!

We were a little nervous because one of my sisters is in a wheelchair and some of the tearooms are not easy to get a wheelchair past tables and precarious shelves filled with teacups and glassware. The owner assured us that they would be able to accommodate us. Unfortunately, the say that we had reserved a table, it was storming severely and I was taking my sister, her wheelchair and her daughter. Luckily, when we arrived, the staff was waiting to assist us with umbrellas and someone to push my sister's chair to a private tearoom in the converted carriage house with an Alice in Wonderland theme.
 



The tea itself was outstanding, one of the best I've ever had. We each had the Petite Windsor High Tea which included a pot of tea of your choice, assortment of finger sandwiches and mini quiches in phyllo shells, a mini cake bite, chocolate-dipped strawberry and a freshly baked scone served with clotted cream, lemon curd and preserves. (My favorite was the mini quiches and really anything lemon!!)


Of course, each of us got a different pot of tea:
Stephanie: Chocolate Chai Tea and Mother's Bouquet
Rita:
Christie: Strawberry Shortcake
Me: Vanilla Chai Tea



It was truly a great gathering, something Army life has limited with the various moves and distances it has kept us from our families. But I think it also makes moments like this more special, because they are so few.

Whether you eat in the main tearoom or host a special event, the English Tea Room will definitely be a place to make memories.

Until our next cup of tea,








May 6, 2014

Adding to My Collection: From England To Galveston

Today I spent most of my morning walking around one of Galveston's tourist areas delivering TEAinTEXAS magazines to some of the advertisers and businesses who distribute it. One of the stops was at Collector's Gallery, an antique shop with nearly something for everyone ... or at least for every one who loves old treasures.

After finding a few bookselves of books and perusing (all while willing myself not to sit on the floor and make myself comfortable), I wandered about a found the glassware and china. Of course, I was drawn to the teacups and teapots. Oh, I could've stayed there for days, but I was on a schedule and quickly fell in love with this pink Willow Allerton cup and saucer.


I love the pictorial design that wraps all around the cup. Unlike some collectors, I'm not particular about finding rare pieces, or imperfection-free pieces, or even matching pieces, some times. I really enjoy searching for teacups (and sometimes teapots) and finding one that calls my name or catches my eye. I try to never go into an antique store looking for a particular piece, color or brand, though sometimes I will be a specific item like teacup or lone saucers (they need some extra love) or a teapot.
 
When researching the willow pattern, I found that it was later accompanied by a fable believed to have been created as a marketing ploy to boost sales, which of course intrigued me as a marketing professional. The story goes ...
 
The Romantic Fable: Once there was a wealthy Mandarin, who had a beautiful daughter (Koong-se). She had fallen in love with her father's humble accounting assistant (Chang), angering her father. (It was inappropriate for them to marry due to their difference in social class.) He dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart. The Mandarin was planning for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke. The Duke arrived by boat to claim his bride, bearing a box of jewels as a gift. The wedding was to take place on the day the blossom fell from the willow tree.
On the eve of the daughter's wedding to the Duke, the young accountant, disguised as a servant, slipped into the palace unnoticed. As the lovers escaped with the jewels, the alarm was raised. They ran over a bridge, chased by the Mandarin, whip in hand. They eventually escaped on the Duke's ship to the safety of a secluded island, where they lived happily for years. But one day, the Duke learned of their refuge. Hungry for revenge, he sent soldiers, who captured the lovers and put them to death. The gods, moved by their plight, transformed the lovers into a pair of doves (possibly a later addition to the tale, since the birds do not appear on the earliest willow pattern plates).


 
After a little bit of searching, I learned that the designer Allerton's had several different stamps, varying over the years, with one of the plate being a later stamp. I couldn't find any reference to the one of the cup, but it is interesting. Many china companies replicated the Willow pattern, in the original color of blue as well as pink, green and brown. This cup is considered pink, not red.
 





Bonus: This is a photo of some of the books!!


Until our next cup of tea ...





April 28, 2014

Favorite Creative Time of the Year!!

My favorite creative time of the year is here!! Teacher Appreciation Week is such an exciting time for me because I get to spend some creative energy making thank you gifts for my son's teachers. This is the start of his third year in school and I've had fun making presents in the past. This year I have to be careful, because he has a teacher that he had the first year. This week I will post instructions for simple, budget-friendly projects, but here are some I've done in the past.

 

This was a pretty cost friendly project. I was able to get clipboards at the Dollar Tree and the 12x12 inch scrapbook paper was about $0.60 each (2 needed for each board.) The most expensive thing was Mod Podge Glue, which is $5-$10 a bottle. I had some from a previous project, as well as sponge brushes. The time on this project was a little longer than the other projects, because I had to let each layer of Mod Podge dry before applying the next. I think I applied 3 or 4 layers, since the teachers would be using them in the classroom.
 

 

This was a fun one. I just filled a little basket with Hershey's Kisses & Hugs candy and A&W Rootbeer with the note, "AW-some teachers deserve HUGS & KISSES". They loved it!!


 

This project was fun and easy and my then-3-year-old was able to help. We got the drink bottles at Dollar Tree (honestly, most of my thrift finds come from there as it is the closest to where we live). I also picked up berry-flavored drink mixes. My little guy was very excited to be able to help by filling the bottles with the drink mixes. Then we added a note that said "You are "berry" special to me!"


 

Lastly, one of my favorite gifts whith everything coming from the Dollar Tree, is this flower pot filled with pencils which we glued flowers to and added flower seed packets and decorative butterflies and dragonflies. It had a note that said "Thank you for helping me to bloom!" 
 
 
I hope you'll take the time to thank the teachers in your life, whether its with a creative gift like this or just a note.

 

April 27, 2014

Their Trash, My Treasures

I have recently discovered a show called "I Brake for Yard Sales" and I must say, though I am inspired to buy secondhand pieces and remake them into new pieces, I don't have the time or space at this point. Work space and display space are limited, and juggling a husband in law school, a preschooler with extra curricular sports and a full time job is probably enough without looking for more to do. Now, if Lara Spencer wanted to come to my home and reorganize our home's layouts and find us room for more then I say "Come on, I'll put on a pot of tea."

I will admit that lack of room and time has not deterred me from stopping at yard, garage or estate sales or even Thrift Stores and flea markets looking for smaller treasures, like teacups. In fact, the past week I have had quite a bit of luck.

Early last week, I stop at the Family Thrift Store near my son's looking for a teacup or cute pot because I wanted to make a fairy garden for my niece's Disney's Fairies themed party next month. I did find a few teacups, but this matching trio won't work for a garden for a 4-year-old. What do you think of these pink and grey beauties? They were $2 each set.I also got this cute little glass dish that will look cute with a candle or something for $1.



Later in the week, maybe Thursday, I went to the local Goodwill on the other side of town, but didn't find any teacups that would work. There were a few cup and saucer sets with an Asian feel to them, but they were a little out of my weekly allownace range. It did remind me of the beautiful sets I saw in Korea when I went to visit my husband while he was stationed there in 2012. 

This morning after hitting the gym while my husband and son hit the pool, we went to lunch a lamented all the things we should be doing, like cleaning the house, finishing the garden projects we started yesterday or in my husband's case, studying for the fast approaching finals. We took a short cut through the neighborhood, something we always do when coming from the west side of town and passed a yard sale that looked like it was in its last few minutes as the weather started to turn. As we passed I said, "Oh, they have teacups!' and my dear, sweet husband didn't take but a minute to assure me we could turn around and look. We only had a few dollars on us, but it was enough. I got this matching set of gold teacups and saucers for $1 for both (woohoo!) and the pink glass sugar and creamer set for $1 each. He even threw in a book for my little guy. 




It was a great week for secondhand surprises. Its like a treasure hunt. You  never know what you will find!!

Until out next cup of tea ...

 



April 22, 2014

Texas Tearoom Adventures


I have to say, one of the best parts of working at TEAinTEXAS is I get to explore so many fun places. A favorite of course are all the tearooms and cafes. Such a great treat when I can schedule a work lunch at one of these fun places.



 
Until our next cup of tea ...
 
 

April 21, 2014

A Little Easter Inspired Creativity? Or Just Tea Inspired?

Ah, a quiet Easter morning is heavenly. We woke to a little Monkey crawling into our bed at 5 a.m and convinced him to go back to sleep until nearly 7 a.m. The after we got up and shuffled to the livingroom to start our day with a little bit of Batman (the 4-year-old was in charge of the TV), I snuck out the back to play "Easter Bunny" and hide the dinosaur eggs and layout the Easter basket. Fun ensured as we searched the yard for the treats left for Monkey by the Bunny.

I made blueberry muffins for breakfast while Daddy and Monkey played with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys found in the basket, then off to a few hours of creative fun while the boys played and watched movies.

I'd purchased some boards earlier this week to cover with fabric. I wanted to use two of the antique end tables that we have from George's grandmother's collection and placing the under the covered boards. It turned out to be a quick and easy project. 


(Eventually I want to order a piece of glass for the top.) 
Then I rummaged around the house, finding things to help me organize the space and decorate it. That was fun. A decorative mirror, candleholder, frames, etc. I even "borrowed" a white from from the kitchen and framed this paper teacup my publisher had given me.  
 
 
 
 

It was such a quick and fun project. Eventually I'll add some shelves about the desk and maybe a bookshelf off to the side. I'm kind of excited, because until now the office has been filled with my husband's guidons, awards and such with a corner for my craft stuff. Now I am fully embracing my half of the room, so I am excited to see how it turns out with a "two-faced" his and hers office. I'll post pics when I get it all organized and complete.

Until our next cup of tea ...

 
 

April 19, 2014

A Bed & Breakfast of a Southern Girl's Dreams

I'm pretty proud of the fact that I grew up in Louisiana's Plantation Country, in the shadow of some of the most beautiful antebellum houses on the Gulf Coast. From Oak Alley Plantation to The San Francisco Plantation House to Houma House, as a little girl, I didn’t dream of my wedding, I dreamed of a home like these.

My dreams of modeling a future home after these historical treasures didn't fade as I grew in adulthood, but I did realize that a home of that size might not be realistic, so I settled on mimicking it in a smaller format. Unfortunately I fell in love with Prince Charming who loves Mediterranean style homes, but we’re working on his one flaw …

Thursday while working on final projects for the TEAinTEXAS Summer Issue the publisher and I made a day trip to Galveston, Texas. One of our stops was the impressive Lasker Inn, and its beauty surpassed everything you see in photos. As I walked through the house, I contained my excitement in what I hope was a professional manner, but inside I was as giddy as a girl with a backstage pass to New Kids on the Block … or um, One Direction. (And now I’ve aged myself.)

 

The Lasker Inn is so beautiful with its tall ceilings, regal furniture and striking room colors. It took a lot for me to not take off my shoes, sit on the floor and just slowly and methodically take in all its grandeur. I can see why this is such a popular spot for weddings and events. It is amazing.

The only thing that is more amazing is the staff’s friendliness. I was already planning my next visit before I even left. 


 

The Lasker Inn’s history is as unique as the city it calls home. This grand Colonial Victorian home was built in 1970 and later became a Home for Homeless Children after the Great 1900 Flood. Later it was home to Heritage Christian Academy and then an event venue before Linda and Richard Denson took up the challenge to restore the home’s warmth and welcome visitors to stay in Galveston at the renovated Bed & Breakfast. Now Lasker Inn serves as a celebration station for couples pledging their love and life to each other. If you are even in Galveston, I recommend that you check out this beautiful piece of Texas history. 

 

It was absolutely the best way for me to start off Easter vacation 2014!

Until our next cup of tea ...