February has been pretty up and down. With snow, 70˚ weather, rain, sun, etc... it's been an interesting month for plant observations.
What has February been like where you live?
February has been pretty up and down. With snow, 70˚ weather, rain, sun, etc... it's been an interesting month for plant observations.
What has February been like where you live?
Basting quilts is one of those things that I find myself putting off. But when I do baste, I try to do a few quilts at a time, Usually it's a party for me and the cats! We all get on the floor and wrestle with quilt backs, quilt tops, batting and each other.
This time no cats joined me. Irving briefly put in an appearance to scuffle with one of the quilts, but it was half hearted and short lived. You'd think it would make my basting task easier, but I still struggled with these two little quilts.
My basting method is pretty easy and perhaps too rudimentary. Like all my quilting methods, it's simple, not fussy, what some would call wonky. I usually place the backing on the batting, smooth it out, flip it over on the floor, place the quilt top on top and pin. The backing tends to be a little loose, but I smooth it out while hand quilting and there usually aren't too many gathers when it's finished. Once washed, my quilts tend to be looser and more puffy than some, but you hardly notice. Occasionally I tape the backing to the floor, then tape the batting in place before smoothing the quilt top as the last layer and pin. But that seems like a lot of work.
The two baby quilts I basted on this party day came out even looser than normal. I'm not sure if it was bc they are so small and I'm used to dealing with larger heavier quilts. Or perhaps it was bc I didn't have my helpers!
Time will tell how these two small quilts come out. Any other non traditional basters out there?
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.
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!
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?
Finally got to quilting this one!!
Feeling hopelessly out of practice and behind. All the more reason to carry on.
For quite. few weeks now, I haven't gathered all my Mad Cat Quilts BOM blocks together. Here they are:
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.
A friend recently asked me for my first or easy zero waste swaps, so I thought it would be nice to round up a few of those here:
One easy thing we started doing was using cloth napkins. It's far cheaper and easier than buying paper napkins or, as we used to use, paper towels.
I try to always to bring my reusable coffee cup when I know I'm going to be getting a coffee out. If I forget I get the coffee to stay.
One easy swap I made was to stop using plastic bags for produce at the supermarket. I either do not place my veggies in a bag at all (this works well for broccoli, lettuce, kale...) or I bring a mesh or fabric bag (for mushrooms, grapes, etc...).
United by Blue had a pop shop on the Asbury Park Boardwalk one Summer, I hope they come back!
A little history of NJ and Singer sewing machines.
More reasons to drink more coffee.
I have posted my first ever video on youtube! It's short and silly!
While we were in Philly at the beginning of the month, we discovered that our hotel was right near the Fabric Workshop and Museum. Before we visited, I had never heard of this little museum and didn't know their mission. Here's how they describe themselves:
The Fabric Workshop and Museum was founded in 1977 with a visionary purpose: to stimulate experimentation among leading contemporary artists and to share the process of creating works of art with the public. Providing studio facilities, equipment, and expert technicians, FWM originally invited artists to experiment with fabric, and later with a wide range of innovative materials and media.
The exhibit that was at the museum when we went was a sort of retrospective of many of the artists that had come to the Fabric Workshop. Process and Practice: 40 Years of Experimentation showcases many of the artist's work as well as their notes, sketches, scraps, prototypes, etc... that they generated while working on the major project. We didn't know what artists there would be or what to expect, but it was really lovely to see the process and production of notable artists like Kiki Smith (next three pictures).
There were a ton of recognizable artists, and many that I had never heard of. I really enjoyed the way the museum was laid out and the way each artist and their work was displayed. Being primarily a textile museum, there were lots of clothing, a quilt, some stuffed toys, some embroidery, and other fabric works. But there were also works of paper, film, and projection.
The Fabric Workshop and Museum is right in the heart of center city, one block from the Reading Terminal Market. The entry fee is only $5 suggested donation. This museum and exhibit is a great way to see some more obscure pieces of your favorite modern artists, or to introduce people to modern art and textile arts. I love how accessible this museum is and I would highly recommend checking it out!
Has anyone else visited this museum? What is your favorite suggest donation museum near you?
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.
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.
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?
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!
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:
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?
I'm not sure where I found this simple repeating block. I can see using this block in many different quilts.
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!
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!
My current capsule, Winter, is my 4th capsule and the first one that I have included shoes. Since starting capsule wardrobes, I found that I always reached for the same shoes, despite having many laying around. I had a huge bin of shoes going unused and dusty in the basement. I had shoes in closets, I had shoes I had forgotten about. I had shoes that I kept, bc I liked them, but that hurt my feet, didn't fit, or both.
Much like the clothing, I took every pair of shoes that I wear out of all the places where I keep them. They were all over! Once I had all of my shoes together, I went thru them and threw away or donated all the shoes that were damaged, obviously didn't fit, or where ones that I knew I wasn't going to wear. There were a few that I put in a maybe pile, and the rest I sorted into what I thought I would use for my Winter capsule.
I tried to wear my maybe pile first. Some of them worked, some of them I kept for other seasons, and some I let go. But there's where the first attempt at having shoes in my capsule kinda fell apart. My big problem is that I bought a bunch of shoes!!
I totally caved and got not one, but two pairs of fast fashion shoes! Nooooooo! Terrible I know, but I will try to be better in the future. Then I found several great pairs of shoes second hand!! One of those has quickly become a favorite but the other I may have to get repaired before I wear them seriously.
The photos indicate what shoes out of the ones that I chose for my wardrobe that I have actually been wearing. Three of the eight pairs fall under slow fashion. Having shoes in my Winter wardrobe hasn't gone exactly how I planned, but I'll continue this shoe experiment and see where it takes me for future capsules!
Each year Pantone, the paint and color people, choose a color in December for the year ahead. They imbue these colors with ideas and ideals for the new year. I don't always agree with the choices but along with many in the quilting community, I like to ruminate on them a bit. This year I thought a long time about the Pantone's Color of the Year 2018, Ultra Violet.
Here's what they have to say about it:
"A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.
Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.
Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.
Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection."
After reading this a few times, I did a fabric pull. Sometimes this helps me think about the color, feel the color. You can see by all the blond cat hair that Irving felt the color, too.
The more I thought about Ultra Violet the more I thought it is a great color for 2018. The idea of inner peace, self reflection, and inner wellness are commonly depicted by deep purples, and this would be a good year for everyone to open up that deep purple space within and spread some peace love and understanding.
Rich violets and purples have long been associated with royalty, and I like the idea that this can cross over to people in the creative world, people of power, people of influence. Ideally in 2018, Ultra Violet will encourage those people to step forward, step up, and lead by well meaning example. I hope 2018 will be a time for those influential and powerful people to make change for the better and help heal our country and our world. But the other side of Ultra Violet may mean that those in power continue to change things for the worse, and use their influence to perpetuate hate, violence and conflict. All images that a deep purple can also evoke.
So, while I'm hopeful that Ultra Violet will shine a reflective, calming light on the world this year, I also see this Pantone Color of the Year having a dark side. Let's call it Ultra Violent. Power, persuasion, dark vibes, and nightmares, Ultra Violent is also the color of spooky corners, unknown depths, a black eye, your last breath.
I'm rooting for goodness to emerge this year, I'm just not holding my breath. I feel that this year, Pantone has captured the right color for 2018, I'm just not sure that's a good thing.
What do you think of Ultra Viole(n)t? How does it make you feel for the year ahead?
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!
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!
January creeped by with cold weather and snow storms, warm days and catfights, little time for relaxing and less time for creative work. The first 12th of the year may have been tough, but we were thankful for the lessons it brought.
Despite bitter cold, we saw some #watchercats around the neighborhood. Some walks were had, and we even made it to a freezing beach once or twice.
We were able to visit friends and family, stay warm with our favorite meals and cozy cocktails, spend time with sleeping cats and snake like cats, tried to eat healthy and nourish ourselves and those around us.
Here are some things I learned, or relearened in January
- I have seasonal depression and it effects everything I do in cold months.
- I need to not be so hard on myself about that fact.
- Kittens are a lot of work and street kittens even more so!
I wouldn't say January went fast, but boy did it go! What do you have in store, February?
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 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.
Who of my readers enjoyed a plant filled January?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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!