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July 28, 2014

A Beau-TEA-ful Treat!!

So yesterday, I showed you the Round Robin tea-themed quilt that was completed over the last year by my fellow quilt team members. At the conclusion I eluded that there was another tea-related surprise that I got this weekend and here it is ...

We had quite the active weekend, playing at the park, swimming, an Astros Baseball game, and more. While out and about my husband asked if I wanted to stop at a local consignment store in our community to see if they had any cabinets or hutches because we'd been trying to find something to display my tea cup collection since we first got married, 10 years ago. 

When we got there we found two beautiful cabinets and after some discussions and comparisons, we decided to go with this one ...



After the baseball game, I spent a few hours unpacking my tea cup collections and tea sets and arranging them. 






Between my collection, the glass pieces and china we inherited from George's grandmother and my great-grandmother, the cabinet was filled in no time. About 2/3 of the pieces fit, so we'll have to come up with some other display methods.

Until our next cup of tea ...









July 27, 2014

Waiting with Anticipation ...

Editor's Note: I had wanted to post this yesterday, but had to wait for my mom to return from the Quilt Retreat where they revealed the Round Robin quilts to the owners. I was unable to make it and since she didn't return until nearly 10 p.m., this post is going out today instead.

This week I finished my first Quilting Round Robin. Last November my Mom and a group of quilting friends needed another person to fill out their Round Robin, which was part of 3 other groups of 6. Since we started a meeting behind and one person short, we needed to attend our first meeting, their second meeting, with our medallion block and one border.

This was my medallion, is Sweet Tea Cottage Block of the Sweetheart Cottages in the Follow Your Heart Pattern by The Quilt Company. It was the first pieced quilt block like this. It was not as hard as I thought it would be and look forward to trying other patterns in the future.


 
Then I added a checker board style border and solid to bring out more of the green accents in the medallion.
 
 
The Shabby Chic look and soft pinks and greens are something that I have always loved though it was not the dream George had in mind for a home when we got married, so I never really decorated the home in that theme. But when I saw the Sweet Tea Cottage Block, I know it had to be the centerpoint of my quilt.
 
As far as my first Round Robin experience, I would have to say it was very intimidating. I am a novice quilter, at best, mostly making large repeating blocks. I have been exploring with Quiltsmart's printed interfacing, but I have very little confidence in my own skills. It was a big hindrance because despite the support and encouragement of the other quilts in my team and the others in the group, I still felt like I would be the person to mess up these beautiful quilts for everyone else and it soon prevented me from having fun. I learned a lot from the other participants and really enjoyed the experience, but after some thought I decided to continue in the Round Robin ... but solo. That just means each meeting I will work on a quilt and add a border, it will just be one quilt - mine. That way if I ruin it, or waste fabric trying to do something new, or any of the other worries I had, it will be at a cost to me, not another quilter. In fact, it will be the one I wrote about in my last post.
 
But regardless, last night was amazing. My mom arrived, as I said, pretty late. We had just come back from an Astros (MLB) baseball game and was trying to get the 4-year-old to settle down after copious amounts of junk food and sugary treats.
 
She arrived, ready to reveal my quilt and this is what greeted me ...
 
 
 
A few close ups of the various borders ...
 




 
Absolutely beautiful! I just keep opening it up and looking at it ... only to find something new to fall in love with. {sigh}

I will probably add another border or two to finish it off, and then hopefully get it quilted. But this wasn't the only tea-themed surprise this weekend. Come back later to learn what else I got to feed my obsession!

Until our next cup of tea ...







 
 






July 25, 2014

Quilting with Quiltsmart

So I just finished the last of the quilts from the Round Robin I participated in this past year (post on that coming tomorrow). But during that time I have been wanting to just saddle up the the sewing machine and get creative with some of the Quiltsmart interfacing I've got in my QS box in my sewing room. It sits there staring at me, begging to be inspiring but with so much on my plate lately and the commitments that I'd made didn't allow me to just be creative at the sewing machine. In fact, sometimes I was stressed trying to get to the projects on my list!

But, the Round Robin quilt that I finished on Tuesday was the final project to be complete! So excited!! Even though I am in the final frenzied weeks of the Fall Quilt Issue at TEAinTEXAS, I did spend my lunch hour "playing". 

I had previously started working on a Princess Feather pattern. The first border is not necessarily a border as much as turning the medallion on point. Something that I am scared to do because of the math involved and the potiental to waste fabric getting it right. But turning it on point using the grid interfacing and 2-in squares. Previously I had cut the squares and ironed them to the interfacing hoping for time to sew them ... but then my sewing machine broke.

But my dear sweet husband surprised me with a Husquvarna Viking Opal 670 in May and now I am in heaven!! So today, I finally had the time to get some stitching done, so off I went, getting started on my waiting Quiltsmart project!


Oh, did I mention it's Christmas themed!?! I have never made a quilt with the holiday theme or colors. I have always been hesitant because it was a little intimidating to make a quilt that was Christmas-y without being childish or "country", I wasn't sure if I could make one that was elegant and holiday-insired. But I am up for the challenge!! 

So let's see where this journey takes us!!

I am also in the early stages of working on a secret Quiltsmart project, something that I'd been thinking of and making notes on for about a year now. I'll post some sneak peeks of it, but am hoping that I can have the full vision complete by Christmas for a big reveal. Fingers crossed! 

Until our next cup of tea ...



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.