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Some things are too pretty to throw out. Cracked or chipped teacups fall into that category for me. Recycling or reusing them in different ways seems to be the best compromise and for years I have looked for ways to do this. After much thought and research, I have compiled this list of ways to reuse mismatched cups and slightly damaged teacups:

1. Teacups as Planters
Pack crocus corms tightly with point side up in water over a bed of tiny pebbles. Or drill a drainage hole into the bottom of a teacup and pop in an herb plant. Plant three or more of these and line them up along your sunny kitchen window.

2. Teacups as Storage Caddies
A teacup set in your guest bathroom makes a cute container for small guest soaps.

Teacups can also be used in a bathroom to store small items such as nail clippers and hairpins or used in your bedroom as jewelry sorters for earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.

What about using an old tea cup at your desk for storing paper clips, rubber bands, stamps, etc.?

3. Teacups as Pincushions
I’ve seen old teacups converted into pincushions with attached saucers used for holding buttons, bobbins, etc. Just make a compact ball of stuffing, cover it with fabric and hot glue it to the inside of the tea cup.

4. Teacups as Candy Dishes
Collect and group an assortment of teacups. Place different colored candy in each cup. This would be especially sweet for a springtime luncheon.

4. Teacups as Candle Holders
Put votive candles into an array of teacups for an instant candle-scape indoors or out. Varying the heights of each teacup and saucer set would add visual interest.

5. Teacups as Candles

I haven’t made these myself yet, but I plan to. Basically, a wick is attached to the bottom of the cup, wax is melted in the microwave and then poured into a tea cup. Complete instructions for this project can be found here: http://www.designspongeonline.com/2008/11/diy-project-kates-teacup-candles.html

6. Teacups as Bird Feeders

Check out this website for ways to convert teacups into bird feeders for your garden.

7. Teacups as Decorative Items

Broken pits of teacups can be used in mosaics and in jewelry designs.
Teacups have been converted into bangles, wind chimes, and chandeliers. Look at these clever ideas.

Now that you know what to do with those misfit teacups, don’t forget that tea leaves can be recycled, too. Throw loose tea leaves into your compost pile. Composting tea bags is a little trickier, depending on the type of tea bag fabric used. Used tea bags can also be placed in the bottom of plant containers, especially in hanging plants, to help retain moisture. And remember the old beauty tip of using them as eye compresses. Warm or cold, teabags can help to relax tired eyes. Lastly, donate dried, empty teabags to native artists who use them to create original artwork that they sell to raise money for themselves and their communities. Check out this company in Africa that makes art and useful items out of tea bags. Good for our planet and good for our souls.

Note: I created the photo mosaic teacup card at the top of this post for my Auntie Ella who is a lover of hearts and of tea, but more importantly, is a very special person to me.

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College Care Packages

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When I was a freshman in college I received a care package from an out of state cousin. It was the first care package I’d ever received and, although I don’t really remember the contents of the package, other than dried prunes, it taught me about how simple gestures can mean so much. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes sums it up, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I have never forgotten how my cousin’s thoughtful gesture lifted my spirits. One of my nieces has been away at college for about a month now and homesickness can set in at about this time, so I’m putting together a care package for her. In a U.S. Postal Service flat rate box you can cram as much as you want as long as the box does not exceed 70 pounds. The post office will give you the boxes free, you fill them, and then pay the flat rate for them to be shipped. They come in four sizes and the rates vary from approximately $5.00 to $14.00. Delivery time is usually about two days. It’s better to mail these packages at the beginning of the week, so that they arrive midweek and do not sit in the college mail room over the weekend.

Here’s a list of ideas to include in college care packages:
Sundries
scented face mask
nail polish
lip balm
hand lotion
shower gel
hand sanitizer
ear plugs
cute Bandaids

Food
pretzels
granola bars
microwave popcorn
microwavable cakes like Betty Crocker’s Warm Delights
cookies – homemade or store bought
dried fruit
beef jerky
instant oatmeal
ramen
Easy Mac
Rice Krispies Treats
candy
tea bags
hot cocoa packages
beverage pouches for water bottles such as Crystal Lite On The Go

Miscellaneous
magazines
seasonal decorations
water bottle
bubbles
DVDs
CDs
stress toy
Chlorox wipes
Shout wipes
Post-its
USB flash drive
pens
gift cards
quarters for laundry (if they’re not using laundry cards)
Frisbee
mini football

I’d love to learn what favorite items you include in college care packages!

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