February Plant Update

February has been pretty up and down. With snow, 70˚ weather, rain, sun, etc... it's been an interesting month for plant observations. 

Crow crowns one of my favorite pines. 

Crow crowns one of my favorite pines. 

Heavy snow and white pine. 

Heavy snow and white pine. 

New flowers from work. 

New flowers from work. 

This weird geranium (??) was given to me by a friend. It was doing really well until Irving knocked it down off it's perch. 

This weird geranium (??) was given to me by a friend. It was doing really well until Irving knocked it down off it's perch. 

Starting to see signs of spring. 

Starting to see signs of spring. 

What has February been like where you live?

Simple Swap: Cloth Coffee Filters

One easy simple swap I've made on my Zero Waste Journey is to get reusable, cloth coffee filters. This hasn't changed my coffee routine at all, except to eliminate paper filters.

I used to buy recycled, compostable disposable filters to use in my pour over coffee maker. I still don't think this is a terrible choice, as every part is recyclable or compostable. But the cloth filters cut down waste even further. The particular ones I bought (Coffee Sock) did come packaged in a plastic bag with a cardboard card. I recycled both.

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I use the filters 4-6 times before washing them, first in the sink with warm water to get most of the coffee out, then in the washer (careful to put them in with dark colors as coffee does stain). Between uses, I dust out the grounds into the compost or a jar to save for soups, face washes, or cleaning scrubs.

Water runs thru the cloth filters faster than the paper ones, so I adjusted my Burr grinder to be a little finer. I buy my beans locally, usually from Asbury Park Roastery. They have many organic roasts, are so nice, and only 3 blocks from my house!

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These cloth filters are made from cotton, and seem very easy to make. But I think that these ones will last me a long time. I've been using them for a few months now, and besides staining from the coffee, they're holding up very well. I wouldn't want to wash these filters between every brew, but that's just me. It certainly wouldn't be difficult. 

What method do you all use to make your daily coffee or tea?

MCQBOM² Group Photo / 2

For quite. few weeks now, I haven't gathered all my Mad Cat Quilts BOM blocks together. Here they are:

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Clearly all the blocks are different sizes and don't fit together yet! I'm not too worried yet, but I have to get on with my plan to try and get my blocks be be more uniform in size. Bc I don't measure, except by eye, I want to continue making a few more blocks before I try to make these more uniform. 

Linking up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching, Monday Making, Move It Forward Monday. 

Bullet Journal Check In: Trial and Error

I love my bullet journal and find it a very effective tool, as well as being a calming and pleasurable routine. I often try new spreads, new ideas, and new ways to track things in my life. Sometimes they work, sometimes not at all. 

During the end of Jan and the beginning of Feb, I have tried several new things for me. Some are working, some are failing, and some will get modified to try again. 

Capsule Tracker:

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I've tried a few different methods to see how I'm utilizing my capsule wardrobe. I can't recall where I saw someone tracking what they wore, the prominent colors, and what items of clothing is the favorite. I Really like this to quickly see what i love wearing and what I wear all the time. I think one thing that will help this tracker, and my bullet journal overall, is to take more care with how I write my lists.

Expenses Tracker:

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I usually only put the total of my daily expenses in the log section of each month. I thought really laying out every little item I spend on would be interesting. I also have been tracking if the purchases make me feel a certain way. MuchelleB suggests this as another good way to see what you're and why you're spending what you are. If purchases are not making you feel happy why are you making them? 

Cleaning Tracker:

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This is another expanded tracker that I plant to do very differently next month. Previously, I had a tracker for some cleaning tasks in my weekly over view. But I found that some weeks I would forget to fill it in and some weeks I wouldn't even write it out all the way. I'm planning on dividing tasks into daily, weekly, biweekly and monthly tasks. I know many bullet journal users do this but I've never tried it! 

Content Tracker:

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I saw this content tracker on FemmeHead and I thought it would be a nice thing to try, especially bc I hope to extend my content. As you can see from all the scratched area, it needs some work.  

Chris Lunch/Shopping List:

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Lastly, I have started to track what my husband brings for lunch at work and how often he brings it. I'm liking this, but I don't know if it's actually useful yet. For most of my time bullet journaling, I  had been putting a shopping list randomly where ever in my daily pages or anywhere it fit. I've started putting the shopping list all in one place for the last few months and I find this super helpful. 

What new trackers and pages are you trying in your Journal this month? Does anyone have any ideas how my trackers could be more effective? 

24 Hours in Philadelphia for 5th Anniversary

For our fifth wedding anniversary we weren't sure what we wanted to do, if anything. I have been trying be mindful about marking events that are important to me where my family is concerned. It's easy for me to just let an event or special day pass with little fanfare. 

After much hemming and hawing, we decided to spend one night in Philadelphia. We haven't visited for several years and not since we moved to NJ. Philly is only about an hour and twenty minutes from Asbury Park! We left a bit late in the day and made a stop at one of our favorite vintage toy shops in Allentown, NJ. 

We only spent about 24 hours in the city and plenty of that was sleeping, but we got to walk around china town, eat ramen, dim sum, pastries, have a cocktail in the hotel bar, see a cool museum, smash some pennies, see some historical sites, and walk around some more! 

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I didn't get to explore any zero waste resources on this trip but I'm excited to do more research next time!

Philadelphia has so many interesting pockets and neighborhoods and it's really easy to see a lot in a short time. We will definitely be going back for day trips and easy overnights. Especially concidering how easy it is to drive there for our house!

Please leave your Philly recommendations in the comments!

February OMG

Last month, I endeavored to finish one of two small quilts as the first OMG (One Monthly Goal) of the new year. I was able to finish one top, so finishing this scrappy little quilt is really important for me this month! 

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I still have to baste, quilt, bind, label and gift this quilt. I have a plan for the quilting and the small size should make this a doable goal!

So far, in 2018, I'm oh for one as far as OMG goes:
Jan - Finish one small quilt - Not Finished
Feb - Finish scrappy quilt -

I'm linking up with Elm Street Quilts, Slow Sunday Stitching, and more!

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Working Cats

One of my goals in 2018 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

When I saw Working Cats by Terry Deroy Gruber in one of my favorite used book shops in Brooklyn, I couldn't resist. 

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This book was published in 1979, the year I was born! It's full of photos of cats "working" in various places, or on the street. It features really awesome photos of these cats and a quote from a human working along side them. I got this booked but I put off actually reading it for a long time. Some of the stories are sweet, some heartbreaking.  But I know that this coffee table style book will be one that I will cherish and have for a long time. I would highly recommend this book for cat lovers, those who love vintage photos and people who love coffee table books! 

January Plant Update

January was not a good month for plant observations. By far the worst month since I started this column. I wasn't out and about too much, I didn't take too many pics, it was cold, iy was snowy, it was wet. One can only hope February will be better. 

Hard to tell that this was a torrential downpour.

Hard to tell that this was a torrential downpour.

A snowy windblown scrub pine. 

A snowy windblown scrub pine. 

Walking to work over a frozen lake. 

Walking to work over a frozen lake. 

Who of my readers enjoyed a plant filled January?

Zero Waste : The Joy of Using Up

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

Old hotel shampoos and conditioners and huge, horrifying plastic razor that we are in the process of using up. 

Old hotel shampoos and conditioners and huge, horrifying plastic razor that we are in the process of using up. 

The other day, I scraped the last little bit of mayo from a large plastic Hellman's container and I thought happily "this is the last plastic jar of mayo I will ever buy!". I have had a lot of these moments since I have started my Zero Waste Journey.

There's something so simple, but still challenging and satisfying about swapping out the mindlessly acquired items in plastic packaging that we used to buy for things in recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging. I went out several days later and decided to try a really fancy mayo in a glass jar! Why not?! It was way more expensive than that huge plastic jar, but I know it'll be more satisfying and exciting to try a little bit of something new and more sustainable. I get to try something cool that isn't going to generate a ton of waste after I use it up.  

Not only do I love using up something in plastic and buying something new NOT in plastic, I love to NOT buy a replacement at all. It's exciting to realize that I don't need that Item any more and feel good about that. This goes for freebies, too! 

Recently we used the last of our of shampoo and conditioner from big plastic bottles. We plan on buying bars to replace these, but in the meantime, we brought out all those little hotel shampoos and conditioners. You know you have them! Every time we use up a baby hotel bottle I get excited about recycling it and vowing to never bring them home again!

The joy and excitement that comes with using up and getting rid of things that no longer fit my lifestyle is an unexpected pleasure of going zero waste and plastic free. What do you love using up? What surprising pleasure have you gained from a new lifestyle choice?

 

Everlane 1st Purchase Review

For the last few years, I've been trying hard to 1) not purchase too many clothes, and 2) not to purchase new clothes. I buy second hand bc it's better for the environment, bc I enjoy the mindfulness that goes into it, bc it keeps me from shopping in fast fashion, and because it helps save money. 

I love that second hand clothing is already broken in, easy to wear, a fun challenge to find, and I feel good about wearing it out, rather than worrying about saving it. But I generally buy second hand fast fashion (think Gap, Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters) clothing and it does wear out faster than buying new (if your buying well made new clothes) and I have found myself really burning through the jeans I have thrifted lately. I knew that if I wanted to buy a better quality, ethically and eco friendly made pair of jeans, I wanted to try Everlane

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I first heard of Everlane through Erin at Reading My Tea Leaves but so many blogs I read rave about them. I liked that they fit into a new way of thinking about the fashion industry, conscientiously and transparently. 

I chose the High Rise Skinny Jean. On the models they are sleek, but sturdy looking. In person, they are mom jeans. Don't get me wrong! I like them! A lot! But they remind me of the older style of jeans with less spandex, less give, and more stiffness. On the models and on blogs I've seen, they look like they hug your curves and wear like more modern skinny jeans. They may be true for the skinny and the tall, but for my 150lb, 5'2", nearly 40 year old frame, they wear like a mom jean. I'm not complaining! But I thought an honest review would be best. I like the way these jeans make my butt look, they are soft and comfortable (and seem like they will get way more soft and comfortable!), I like the wash I chose. I would, and mostly likely will, buy more jeans from Everlane. But I feel a bit old in them, if stylishly old. 

I've worn these jeans about a dozen times now, and I can see them being a staple in many of my capsule wardrobes going forward. I'll continue to check in as they wear to see how they hold up. I also purchased a shirt along with the jeans but have only had the chance to wear it once. When I feel I have more data, I may make a review of that as well. 

Overall, I waas happy to support a company working to change the way we think about fashion and happy with what I got and how it fits. Have any of you tried this brand? What sustainable, ethical, eco friendly clothing companies do you buy?

MCQBOM² / 6 + A Plan

For my new BOM, I'm using all blocks with squares in them. Simple squares are an essential building block of quilting! MCQBOM² started in September 2017 and I've kinda made 1 - 2 blocks per month depending on how I feel, or what's happening in life.  Since it's January, a new year, and getting close to the 6 month mark of working on this BOM, I decided it was time to make a plan for what I want to do with it. 

This block was so fun to make! Not sure where I found it but I love the snowball/bowtie effect!

This block was so fun to make! Not sure where I found it but I love the snowball/bowtie effect!

For those who have followed along for a while, you know that when I say plan, I mean loose, vague idea for a plan. That's how my improv quilting works. I know that I want to try to be more diligent about sewing 2 blocks per month going forward. I want to stick with my theme of basic blocks with simple squares and my color scheme of blue, green, yellow, red/purple, grey and neutral. I'd like to try and get my blocks a bit more uniform in size. Right now the first six vary wildly! And lastly I'd like to finish this BOM's blocks around Sept 2018, but continue to work on it and have a finished quilt by the end of the year. 

As far as plans go, it's pretty vague, but I like it! I'm ready to start working towards these goals!

Is anyone else out there starting their own BOM this year? 

Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching, Monday Making, Move it Along Monday, BOMs Away and More this week!

 

New Block: Bowtie

This block is actually just part of a larger block. When I was making the pieces for the bigger block, I realized that I had never made a bowtie block before! 

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This block was super simple and easy to get together. Also, this is a good block to make for improvers! I can't wait to show the larger block soon!

Linking up with Slow Stitching Sunday and Monday Making and more!