Spoiled With Mugs

There are ups and downs in joining Starbucks Collectors Group to help my mug collecting. I will deal with the downs in a separate post. For now, I will focus on what makes it worthy. 

When I reached my  first year in the hobby, I listed down all the people who helped me. Every time, I see a mug, I remember the person who gave it to me. Each of them hold a special place in my heart.  

This hobby proved to me that there are people with genuine and generous hearts.

You have to hear the stories of this one collector who lives in a country with no Starbucks and no PayPal (which means she cannot buy from eBay) yet her collection of mugs continue to grow. She really has the best stories and I do hope one day she gets to share them through a blog or somewhere similar.

I received two mugs recently and I've considered them very special.

A fellow collector, Dids, had a spare Cleveland mug. Cleveland is a hard to find mug and rumored to be discontinued. On eBay, a Cleveland mug sold for 200USD. Serious business, eh. But this Cleveland from Dids had special needs. 

It looked perfect this way. 

But when it is turned around, there are several chips at the bottom. This is the reason why it can't be traded. No one will take it. The value of this mug probably went from 200USD to a dollar.  

Dids asked me if I would want the mug, and I said yes. I know there are superstitions about keeping chipped items at home, but I never believe them.  So this chipped Cleveland mug found its way to our home where it'll be taken care of. I can't explain why I have a soft spot for this mug. I guess it will always remind me of Chip from Beauty and the Beast. 

Image source
A week after, I found a surprise in the mail. Another collector, this time, from the US sent me goodies. And I received this beautiful white ceramic mug with copper band. It is beautiful. I was very touched with the gesture and the thoughtfulness.

I learn more about thoughtfulness because of this hobby. There are so many ways you can show people you care for them. It's really just the small things.

I made so many new friends this year all over the world. It's fun as I try to recall the many countries I sent packages to.  

In the end, it is the friendship that will last more than the mugs.  
post signature

How I Pack my Starbucks City Mugs?

An essential skill to learn when one enters the world of mug collection/trading is packing ceramic mugs. I definitely want my mugs to reach its new owners in one piece. And I would want to receive mugs in their perfect condition. No broken handles, nor broken in two. 

So far I have sent almost a hundred mugs out and not one was broken. Crossing my fingers, knocking on wood and whispering a prayer the good streak continues.  

My packing skills definitely improved over the past few months since my very first trade. Now, wrapping those mugs in bubble wrap can be therapeutic. I have established a system which was based on this web page, Tips for Packing Mugs.

So how do I pack my mugs?

What I use --

Step 1 - Cut the bubble wrap (approximately 12in x 36 in) and craft board (approximately 6in x 24 in) enough to cover one mug . I use two pieces of bubble wrap and one craft board.

Steps 2 and 3 - Wrap one piece of bubble wrap around one mug (with or without the protective paper from Starbucks). Place a piece of clear tape on the edges.

Step 4 - Wrap one piece of craft paper around the mug with bubble wrap and seal it with a clear tape.

Step 5 - Last step is to wrap the the mug in craft paper and bubble wrap around the second piece of bubble wrap. Secure the edges with clear tape.

Voila! The finished products.

I absolutely love the boxes from Thailand Post. They are cheap and sturdy. 

How do I arrange the mugs inside the boxes?

For two mugs --

For five mugs --

It is important that the mugs do not have space to move inside the box. Fill the spaces with more bubble wrap or any other filler you have to keep the mugs snuggled. 

I like adding post cards and some local treat together with the mugs. I hope to find more cute items that can easily be included in the package. 

If you have other packing tips, please share them with me. There are so many broken mugs in the collectors' world and I hope to avoid this by sharing the right way to pack them.

Enjoy collecting!

post signature

How to Grow Your Starbucks City Mug Collection?

In a span of almost a year, my Starbucks city mug collection has rapidly grown in size. I now have 82 mugs and waiting to receive 40 more. Thought I'd share how I grew my mug collection. What worked for me and what didn't. 

My Flickr set of my collection

My Pinterest board of my collection

This post is especially dedicated to Jasmine who called me her "mug mentor." Wow! Also dedicated to those who are thinking of starting their own or wants to grow their Starbucks City Mug collection.

Starbucks released several editions of their city mugs. What caught my eye is their current Global Icon Series.

Here are my own tips how I grew my collection:

  • Buy whatever city mugs that are available in your current city.
  • Ask your immediate family and closest friends especially those who are traveling to get the mugs for you. I have three people who I "obliged" to buy me a mug whenever they are on travel. These three people are my husband, brother and sister.
  • Locate people around the globe and plead with them to get you a mug from their own city. (I wasn't comfortable with this so I approached no one.)
  • Find people in the airline or travel industry, they would be able to help you a lot as they travel for a living.
  • Blog about your intention to collect and post it on Facebook. This worked for me. People are more than happy to help me with my collection.
  • Trade with other collectors. Find other collectors at FredOrange.com . Look for me, I am irmaloveslife there.
  • Join Starbucks collectors group on Facebook. These groups helped me a lot. But I am telling you, it is a competitive world out there. I am a member of these three groups:

There are more Facebook groups but I noticed that the members are mostly the same people so I am sticking to three groups for now. 

  • Buy mugs from other collectors. I bought a few mugs from several collectors in the Filipino group.
  • And a collector's last resort, buy from eBay. Search for Starbucks City Mug or be more specific, "Starbucks + city name." Buying from eBay is easy, you just pay via PayPal and you just have to wait for the package to arrive at your doorstep. But better watch out for overpriced mugs. The more rare a mug is the higher the asking prize is. Law of economics.

A few more thoughts....

I had a lot of exposure when I blogged about my collection. I have two very dear cousins who went out of their way from their trips and bought as much mugs as they could. I was overwhelmed and very grateful. I also found friends willing to add mugs to my collection.

I also found wonderful people to trade with through this blog who I ended as friends with.  

I am blessed to be living here in Bangkok where I could easily find the complete set of Thailand city mugs. All five of them. Come to think of it, if I were living in Manila, I would only have access to Manila and Philippines mugs. Not promising.

Trading with collectors from the Facebook groups is very competitive. Most of the collectors there already have the mugs I have access to. And you also "compete" with fellow collectors from where you are from. So unless your city issues a new mug (a surefire way to get everyone's attention) or you are from a city or country which has non-existent collectors/traders, it entails a lot of work. But somehow, I still get requests to trade because there would always be new collectors. So watch out for those. 

The Facebook groups serves as a forum for collectors. You learn about new mugs (Starbucks is issuing way too many new mugs) and collectors to avoid trading with. 

Beware about postage costs. They can be darn expensive. Let's put it this way: cost of a mug + postage fee (approximately same cost as the mug) + packaging materials = expensive. I only use registered air mail for my packages. They are the most reasonably priced postage rate and you get a tracking number. 

Next Starbucks city mug related post would be on packing and boxing mugs for shipping. Yes, it is important that the mugs get to the recipient in perfect condition, no broken handle whatsoever. Watch out for that one!

Hope I helped out the new collectors or those I somehow influenced to collecting from my precious posts. 

If you wish to trade with me or have any questions about the things I discussed in this post, please send me a message at irmaloveslife@gmail.com.

Happy collecting!

post signature

Starbucks City Mug Collection Update

This past month had been crazy. My Starbucks city mug collection grew rapidly.

Reasons would be I went to the Philippines and traded my heart out. I also had a few international trades via mail. Some were gifts for me. Yes, I felt the love.

I brought these with me together with our luggage.

My cousin from Phoenix is spoiling me.

A very special mug from a dear friend. She personally bought this from her trip to Seattle.

A successful trade from Poland.

Add caption

I have 30 new mugs to add to my collection. I now have a total of 69 mugs.

And my collection continues to grow and grow...

A big THANK YOU to each person helping me grow my collection.

post signature

Yummy Magazine's Braised Beef Salpicao

My cooking skills have greatly improved over the four years of being married. I actually enjoy creating meals for my family. 

I still rely on recipes. I cannot cook wonderful meals on my own. I tweak the recipe a bit so I could call it "my" version. Truth is I omit/substitute when I fail to find an ingredient. But the dish would still turn out well. 

I recently brought a dish to a potluck gathering and it was a hit! I was surprised at how good the dish tasted when I first cooked it. And it was relatively easy to make. 

Thought of sharing the recipe here. I'd also mark this dish as one of my favorite dishes to cook AND eat. 

Yummy Magazine's Braised Beef Salpicao

Serves 4 to 5  
Prep Time 15 minutes + 3 to 4 hours simmering time  
Cooking Time 10 to 15 minutes

1/2 kilo beef brisket
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 piece beef broth cube
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon corn oil or cooking oil
2 tablespoons butter
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small can button mushrooms, halved
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, chopped (optional)

1  Cut beef into bite-size cubes. Combine soy sauce, water, beef broth cube, and sugar. In a pan, put beef and pour soy sauce mixture. Bring to a boil then transfer to a slow cooker. (Don’t have a slow cooker? An ordinary cooking pot will do. Just increase the water to 1 cup.) Leave it to cook 3 to 4 hours or until tender. Strain meat. Set aside sauce. 

2  In a nonstick skillet, heat corn oil and butter. Sauté garlic until brown. Add meat and mushrooms and sauté for another 2 minutes. 

3  Pour in the sauce. Add Worcestershire sauce, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with chopped parsley.

Those who love beef, garlic and mushroom would love this dish.

Try it out and let me know how it turns out!

Happy Monday!

post signature
Blogging tips