May Plant Update

May had flowers, that's for sure!! I never realized how much I liked some of these common yard flowers until moving to Asbury Park. I mean, I like all flowers, but azaleas and roses have jumped up to become favorites in the last two years. It's amazing to see them bloom in the spring. 

Those colors are surreal!

Those colors are surreal!

I worry every year that our potted plants won't return, but so far so good!

I worry every year that our potted plants won't return, but so far so good!

Rododendrons are native to NJ and on my list for the yard. 

Rododendrons are native to NJ and on my list for the yard. 

Such a lovey yard I came across walking in the neighborhood. 

Such a lovey yard I came across walking in the neighborhood. 

Last year we had tons and tons of these wild little white flowers in the front yard. This year we were happy to see them return, even in fewer number. 

Last year we had tons and tons of these wild little white flowers in the front yard. This year we were happy to see them return, even in fewer number. 

Last year, I planted this iris and it never bloomed. I was ecstatic to see it thriving! I hope they go nuts and cover the front bed. 

Last year, I planted this iris and it never bloomed. I was ecstatic to see it thriving! I hope they go nuts and cover the front bed. 

My lemon balm came back with a vengeance. 

My lemon balm came back with a vengeance. 

These were roadside in Allenhurst NJ. Anyone know what they are?

These were roadside in Allenhurst NJ. Anyone know what they are?

I want roses everywhere!!!

I want roses everywhere!!!

Beach roses, too!

Beach roses, too!

Theses are the roses in front of the post office that I pass every day on my way to work. It's such a treat and they bloom all Summer. 

Theses are the roses in front of the post office that I pass every day on my way to work. It's such a treat and they bloom all Summer. 

What are some of your favorite May flowers? Did you plant this year, or just enjoy what comes up?  Share your plant observations!

Something New: Machine Sewing

As you may have noticed, I hand sew everything. All aspects of my quilts are hand sewn and hand quilted. But I've been wanting to try making some clothing and as sweet an idea as hand sewn clothing might sound, it's just not practical. 

It's not that I have never used a sewing machine before. I have, but not for a long time! I don't particularly like it. Sewing on a sewing machine, for me, is like working with a robot who speaks a different language. I'm always confused and frustrated. 

That being said, I'm serious about trying out some patterns! That will require not only that I use the sewing machine, but also practice, practice, practice. 

My early attempts have been... mixed. I've already struggled more with the machine than I think is necessary. Here's hoping all that struggle pays off!

Anyone out there trying something new that they are less than comfortable with?  

YOTS2017/Sunday Stash

I've been pretty good about not buying much fabric this year. Except, the other day, I got a little stone in my craw about trying out some clothing patterns. So, of course I had to run out and buy some fabric suitable for clothing making.

I got soft, shear muslin to try out a few self drafted ideas I have. And some linen like fabric if those ideas go well. I wanted linen, but it's so expensive!! And it's all in the experimental phase....

Here's my month Stash Update for May:
Fabric Added from the Since Last Update: 10 (mostly for experimentation, but I picked up a piece or scrap and a vintage table cloth to use as backing at a rummage sale, too) 
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 23.25
Fabric Used Since Since Last Update: Approximately 2 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 10.5 yd

Although I feel good that I haven't bought too much, my output is still about half of my intake! I have to do better at making!

How's your Year of the Stash going so far?

Mad Cat Capsule: What's Not Working

Over a month in and I'm loving my capsule wardrobe. My Mad Cat Capsule consists of approximately 50 pieces of clothing not including loungewear, sleepwear, shoes, work out wear, under garments, or outerwear. That's a lot more than a typical capsule, but as this is my first one, and I literally have hundreds of items of clothing that I'm trying to pare down, this feels like a good start. I've really enjoyed refining what I wear, seeing what works and what doesn't. Going into this project, I really didn't know what to expect, but it's been helpful and exciting to wear only clothes I really enjoy. Over the past month or so, I've definitely noticed that there were items I chose that I didn't end up wearing. Here's the scoop about what I've discovered so far:

I chose quite a number of tank tops at the beginning of my 3 month capsule. I layer, layer, layer and I knew this capsule had to take me to the beginning of Summer so this was a good idea. But as the month progressed, I realized that I was only wearing some of them over and over and never reaching for others. I'm packing up the ones I'm not feeling. 

I thought having a few long sleeve shirts would be a great idea for a capsule that had to span April to June. I wore them once or twice, but noticed that I pulled out sweaters more often. Several of these are going into storage. I love these shirts, but not right now. I feel like I'll be pulling these back out for my 4th quarter capsule in Oct. 

I also had a 3/4 sleeve shirt that I really love and thought would be great, especially for work. I forgot that this shirt captures every cat hair, lint ball, and speck of anything really. This shirt will go to donation. 

IMG_5216.JPG

I chose a few skirts for this quarter 2 capsule and I haven't worn any of them. Huh. I don't want to give up on them just yet but some of these will be put away soon. Again these are pieces that I love, but haven't worked out just yet. On the other hand, I was sure that I wouldn't need my favorite shorts until July, but grabbed them up for a hot beach walk around the beginning of May and am happy that I'll have them for the rest of this capsule.

After scrapping these items and a few others I'm just not wearing, you would think that I would have less pieces in this capsule, but alas, I don't. I lost a few, swapped a few, but added a few, too. In lieu of the long sleeve shirts, I added a dotted sweatshirt I quite fancy, and I recently got a few more graphic tees. So I'm hovering right around the same number of items. 

Really lessening the items I wear has been challenging. Getting rid of items that I definitely won't use, don't like, or don't fit has also been surprisingly hard. I have found it to be difficult to find the time to get these pieces out of my house and into new hands. Anyone out there have any suggestions?

If you've recently started a capsule wardrobe, tell me how it's going!

New Block: Circle Appliqué

This isn't my smoothest appliqué job, but it's the first circle I've ever worked on. I've been working on sewing a lot of orange peels and curves, lately so it was nice to try a different kind of curve. 

Next time, I hope to hide my threads a little better, but other than that, I like the way this block turned out!

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday, Finished or Not It's Friday, and more!

Gypsy Moon Mini: A Finished Mini Quilt

I was so inspired by my new mini and the little scraps that came with it, that I got right down to business making a mini of my own!

I rarely can make any work to completion in one day, so this was an especially fun finish! All the pieces needed fell into place. First, inspiration: The scraps from @gypsymoonquilts gave me were lovely and easy to work with. I happened to have a few other scraps right at my fingertips that I used to round out this mini. 

Second, I had time! I had a fairly free day to sit and sew! The top came together quickly, the batting scraps were on top of a pile, I used one of my favorite prints as a backing. The quilting and basting goes so fast with a mini!

I hope my inspiration hangs in there! I love the feeling of a finish! 

Linking up with Move It Forward Monday, Monday Making, Oh Scrap and more. 

Winner!

I recently threw my name, well my new name @madcatquilts, in the running for a giveaway with @gypsymoonquilts on instagram. And I won!

Credit for all this loveliness goes to @gypsymoonquilts!

Credit for all this loveliness goes to @gypsymoonquilts!

What a sweet little mini mini/mug rug! Some lovely scraps! A cute needle minder! Her work is lovely so check it out!

Off Season: The French Market

Since moving to New Jersey in 2015, I've enjoyed exploring the state and do so the most when tourists are not around. Living in a seasonal tourist hot spot is fun, but I love the Off Season! Over the last few years I've made a few posts on the blog about places that I've seen, noted, liked or loved. Now you can find them all by checking out the Off Season link.  

A friend told me I had to visit The French Market in Rumson, NJ, bc it was right up my alley. She was right! I visited the last weekend in April and have been back 3 times since then! 

Mostly The French Market is a little cafe with fresh bread, pastries, take out prepared food, coffee,  and a ton of sandwiches, wraps, quiches, etc.. but it also sells gift items, plants, and very pretty, if not practical, planting supplies.  

I love the interior which is all black and white and brown with lots of live plants. But I especially love the back room which is a modified, winterized greenhouse and so adorable. The food is simple, fresh and tasty!

IMG_4712.JPG
IMG_4708.JPG
IMG_4703.JPG

The French Market
114 E River Rd, Rumson, NJ 07760
- Open until 7pm on weekdays
- Owned by 3 designers/friends.
- Opened it's doors in July 2015.
- Sadly only has a Facebook page (which I won't bother to force upon you) instead of a proper website. But it does have an Instagram
- First visit April 2017

New Block: Honey Bee Block (Solstice Block 14/25)

Here is another block I heavily modified for Pat Sloan's Solstice Challenge. Her Honey Bee block called for appliqué, ut I chose to make some orange peels instead. 

IMG_4947.JPG

Her block also called for petals or peels at all four corners, but three were enough for me. I'll need to sweep some threads off this block and square it up, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out! 

Linking top with Finished or Not It's Friday, Needle and Thread Thursday, Slow Sunday Stitching and  more! 

6a00d8341c976153ef01bb0964599f970d-500wi.png

OMG May

Oh brother, I was this close to finishing my April goal! And yet... it didn't get done. I've been flitting from project to project lately and not finishing anything! My OMG2017 list is looking pretty abysmal. 

IMG_4668.JPG

Here's another sad look at OMG2017 so far:
Jan - Quilt Maybe Lyz - Not finished
Feb - Quilt Tom Mat - Not finished
Mar - Finish Tom Mat - Not Finished
Apr - Finish Little Baby Quilt Top - Not Finished

For May I'm rolling over my April goal. Ever the optimist, I'm hoping to finish this baby quilt top. 

Linking up with Elm Street Quilts OMG, Building Blocks Tuesday Needle and Thread Thursday, Move it Forward Monday and more!

OMG May.jpg

April Plant Update

April saw a lot of plant activity! We're still on our way through the month and I hope the old April adage holds true, bc we have a had our share of rainy days!

We moved a bunch of plants around inside to help them thrive. 

We moved a bunch of plants around inside to help them thrive. 

My front beds were starting to bloom at the beginning of the month. 

My front beds were starting to bloom at the beginning of the month. 

After clearing them out a little and giving them some love, they are doing even better. 

After clearing them out a little and giving them some love, they are doing even better. 

Trees are blooming all over town!

Trees are blooming all over town!

My herbs are slowly returning. 

My herbs are slowly returning. 

I've gotta clear these guys out and add soil. 

I've gotta clear these guys out and add soil. 

Only about half my baby roses made it thru the Winter, but the ones that did are living it up!

Only about half my baby roses made it thru the Winter, but the ones that did are living it up!

I can't wait until the weather evens out. What have plants been doing where you live this month?

Solstice Challenge Check In

I've gotten a bit behind in Pat Sloan's Solstice Challenge. But It's given me some time to play around with layout and arranging the blocks. 

It's exciting to see a chunk of the blocks together and to imagine what the final piece may look like. I'm liking the idea of these blocks being all joined up with no sashing. Seeing them laid out makes me realize what colors I'd like to add more of. 

Has anyone else participating in this challenge thought out lay out yet?

Linking up with Monday Making, Move it Forward Monday, BOMs Away, and more!

New Block: Studio Time (Solstice block 13/25)

I'm still trying to catch up on the Solstice Challenge, but I'm getting there one block at a time. Studio Time is another great name for a block.  

IMG_4305.JPG

I like that there are a few variations of nine patches in Pat Sloan's BOM. I'm excited to see all the blocks together. Who else is working on this BOM? Are you planning to use the planned layouts? Or are you gonna come up with your own?