September Plant Update

September is local's Summer here and we tried to make the most of it! We were camping, and trapsing around the pine barrens in the beginning of the month. We made the most of vacation and hung out at the beach. We continued our plant obsession and brought home more houseplants. 

An insect eating pitcher plant in the wild!

An insect eating pitcher plant in the wild!

Brendan T Byrne State Park, NJ.

Brendan T Byrne State Park, NJ.

Huge fungus near our campsite!

Huge fungus near our campsite!

So purple!

So purple!

Very large shelf fungus. 

Very large shelf fungus. 

A wild watcher on Long Beach Island, NJ. 

A wild watcher on Long Beach Island, NJ. 

No clue what these beachy berries are. 

No clue what these beachy berries are. 

Repotting new house plants, going thru old pots in the back yard.

Repotting new house plants, going thru old pots in the back yard.

I found out these little moths are called Skippers!

I found out these little moths are called Skippers!

This wasp had blue wings. Anyone know what it is?

This wasp had blue wings. Anyone know what it is?

Our roses did not do well this year, but they are hanging on for dear life. 

Our roses did not do well this year, but they are hanging on for dear life. 

What are plants doing in September where you live? 

YOTS2017 / Wrinkly Old WIPS

All year, I've been meaning to get out my WIPs out to take a comprehensive look at what I have. I kept putting it off, but knowing that I need to baste some quilts and a recent request from a friend, I was motivated to finally take them all out and have a look. It was a good opportunity to see a lot of what I've worked on over the past few years. I wrote down where in the process I am for each project and my goals and ideas for them in the future. Many, I put right back into storage, but some I was happy to see could be advanced to next steps.  

This project also fits in perfectly with YOTS (Year of the Stash), bc if it's still in the house, unfinished and unused, it still counts as stash to me! When quilts, minis, pillows, garments are finished, they go in a basket to leave the house, either to sell or give away, or they get used at home. Only at that stage do I reconsider their Stash Nature. 

I found I had WIPs in all stages, from just a few blocks to close to done. The following are the quilts that were pretty near to finished and that I definitely left out to work on.

We've all seen this quilt before which I call Maybe Lyz Quilt. I've been working on and off on this one for more than a year.  It's a big heavy quilt so it was hard to work on in the warmer weather. 

The front uses a lot of vintage fabric, all calicos! This was my first attempt at an all calico quilt and is a very old quilt top for me. I can't wait to have it finished and out of the house!

The front uses a lot of vintage fabric, all calicos! This was my first attempt at an all calico quilt and is a very old quilt top for me. I can't wait to have it finished and out of the house!

The back is also all calico, most a gorgeous tiny yellow rose print that I thrifted in Vermont. 

The back is also all calico, most a gorgeous tiny yellow rose print that I thrifted in Vermont. 

Tom's Mat is the closest to being done as a small project that I still really enjoy. This one will be good to finish before Winter so that Tom can enjoy it as well. 

Here the dark purple T and the yellow border are both vintage. 

Here the dark purple T and the yellow border are both vintage. 

I mentioned enjoying a project bc this one I hate! OK, I don't hate it, or I just wouldn't do it. But this little Flying Geese Mini is just totally meh in my mind. I do want to finish it, but it's been so long, I don't remember my direction. 

I loved this out of character pink leaf fabric and I think these are the last scraps I had. I made this mini to try flying geese, and i've never attempted them again! The red seersucker and pink floral square are vintage scraps. 

I loved this out of character pink leaf fabric and I think these are the last scraps I had. I made this mini to try flying geese, and i've never attempted them again! The red seersucker and pink floral square are vintage scraps. 

I stopped working on this Fat Little Cross pillow cover bc the tread was catching on the batting and it was absolutely frustrating. I still really like it tho and think it will eventually be a sweet pillow. Just got to get it done!

This top is totally vintage! Not sure what I will back it with to make the pillow but I really dig this top. 

This top is totally vintage! Not sure what I will back it with to make the pillow but I really dig this top. 

These WIPs won't help me use up fabric from the totally unused stash I count each month (except the backing for that pillow!), but I did also do some sewing this month. Here's my stash report:
Fabric Added Since Last Update: Approximately 0 (I did buy a vintage sheet, but I think I'm going to use it instead of cutting it up!)
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 23.25
Fabric Used Since Last Update: Approximately 1 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 13.5 yd

I have many more Wrinkly Old WIPs to show you, and some that I'm sure I didn't unearth. And hopefully some finishes to share when these are done and dusted! Where in the process do you consider a project no longer stash? Any WIPs out there to share with us?

The Zero Waste Post

Or should I say THE Zero Waste Post?

I've been wanting to write this post for a while bc, to me, it officailly marks the start of my Zero Waste Journey. Ever since we moved, I've become increasingly disturbed by the amount of waste we mindlessly generate. For some reason, living in an apartment in Brooklyn, NY, I never realized how much I threw away, how many duplicates I bought, how many items went unused and wasted in my home.

One of my favorite things this summer has been bringing delicious Jersey tomatoes home, either from local farm markets, or neighbor's yards. I like these cardboard containers, which I reuse or compost. 

One of my favorite things this summer has been bringing delicious Jersey tomatoes home, either from local farm markets, or neighbor's yards. I like these cardboard containers, which I reuse or compost. 

When we moved out of our approximately 600/sqft apartment (large by standards!) into twice that amount of space in a home we now owned, we filled it with our stuff! Filled to the brim with stuff, some items I hadn't even looked at in years. So, the first order of business was to start paring down what we already had. This is still a work in progress, but everyday we make a little headway. 

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It was also important to me, moving into a new house, and creating a new life in a new city, to not bring or buy too many new things. I think we did a good job here, not buying too many big ticket items or impulse buys. But there was still so much coming into the house. And I realized that the majority of it left as trash going to fill landfills. This knowledge worried me. So I decided to do something about it!

In little ways, every day, I'm trying to become more mindful of heading towards zero waste. 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.

Making hummus at home has been a good lesson in zero waste. Using up leftovers before they go bad is a challenge. 

Making hummus at home has been a good lesson in zero waste. Using up leftovers before they go bad is a challenge. 

I plan to share my Zero Waste Journey here at Mad Cat Quilts. Who else out there is starting this journey?

Bullet Journal Check in: Tracking My Sewing

For September, I'm trying to think of a more structured way to track my sewing in my Bullet Journal. Now that the slow season at my job is upon us, I have to really get to work and sew, sew, sew!

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Up until now I have had sewing as just one line on my habit tracker. I track approximately 30 -34 activities on this tracker per month. Mostly they stay the same but occasionally I add a seasonal activity or a habit I'm trying to pick up. Sometimes I drop a habit that I don't feel needs tracking or that I move to a different feature of my journal. My habit tracker is just a yes/no, did it/didn't do it affair. If it's checked I did it. 

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For instance, according to my BuJo, I sewed only 5 days in August. That could have been 12 hours each day or it could have been 1 stitch. For reference, in July I sewed 6 days, in June 9, in May 7, so far in Sept only 4. April was divided between two books, but from the 10th to the 30th I sewed 13 of those days.   

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I feel sewing needs more attention now that I have some time to complete more complex goals. I'm not sure what layout I can use, or how to organize and record my sewing practices, but I plan to look around at other people's tracking systems for inspiration. Any Bullet Journalists out there have any suggestions? Any sewists use trackers to see what they have done?

OMG September Finish - A Top

I don't like to post quilt tops, or flimsies, but this being only my second OMG (One Monthly Goal) finish in 2017, I felt it was a special occasion!

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I linked the few Honey Pot Bee blocks that I completed together to make this little baby quilt top. I love this weird 1980s hotel style fabric that my brother in law gave me and am excited to see it as such a main attraction. 

In 2017, I haven't had too many finishes, but I do have quite a few quilt tops. I think it's just about time for a basting party!

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Mad Cat Capsule: What's Not Working (Summer)

From July - Sept, I'm in my second cycle of capsule wardrobing. Both seasons have taught me a lot so far. Almost 5 month in, I'm loving having a capsule wardrobe! 

One thing I've learned is that it's nice to have a safety net. One reason I've started using capsule wardrobes is bc I have too many clothes, but I also have trouble parting with items I don't use. Once I've picked my capsule, I try really hard not to dip into the stash of other clothes I have. But it's nice to know it's there!

This dress was a late add in, but I only wore it once. I thought it would be great bc it has pockets and is so summery, but it's so short and casual, it's not my go to. I love this thrifted dress, so maybe it will come back next Summer. 

This dress was a late add in, but I only wore it once. I thought it would be great bc it has pockets and is so summery, but it's so short and casual, it's not my go to. I love this thrifted dress, so maybe it will come back next Summer. 

I've also learned that as carefully as I choose the clothes for the capsule, as much thought as I put into them, sometimes things don't work out. In the first capsule, I swapped a couple of items for ones that would work better but for the second capsule I avoided doing that. There were still items that didn't work, but I just put them away and didn't use them. 

This white top was one white top too many! I could never fit it into my rotation! I might doate this one, as I have a similar one that I do wear often.

This white top was one white top too many! I could never fit it into my rotation! I might doate this one, as I have a similar one that I do wear often.

My original picks this capsule were fewer than my first capsule and taking away the items that didn't work made it even smaller. I'm excited about the idea of eventually getting down to as few clothes as I can, just what I really need and love. 

I love this thrifted blue silk top and got a lot of wear out of it in Spring, but it was too hot in summer for this top. I'm keeping it, in case we get some cool days in September and rolling it over to Fall, for sure. 

I love this thrifted blue silk top and got a lot of wear out of it in Spring, but it was too hot in summer for this top. I'm keeping it, in case we get some cool days in September and rolling it over to Fall, for sure. 

At the end of September, I'll be choosing net season's capsule, and I can't wait to apply what I've learned from previous capsules. What are some things that you consider when putting together your capsule? What do you do when you find a piece you've picked isn't working?

 

New Block: Scrappy Cross Patchwork (Honey Pot Bee September)

After many months of not wanting to sew any of the Honey Pot Bee Blocks, I like both the September blocks! All the blocks have been interesting and lovely, but not many sparked me. 

Lots of cat hair, threads and wrinkles on this little block. It will deserve some love before being paired with anything else. 

Lots of cat hair, threads and wrinkles on this little block. It will deserve some love before being paired with anything else. 

This block came together easily and I like that I did end up using a similar color combo to the other HPB blocks I made without even thinking about it! I made this block quite large, which I enjoy, but I can see this being a block to make in a variety of sizes. 

This block and a few others I've been eyeing lately might inspire me to start a late year MadCatQuiltsBlockOfTheMonth. I failed at my fisrt attempt this year, but what's to stop me starting anew whenever I please? I'm still formulating my plans, but we will see!! Anyone else out there starting a late BOM? Or starting a BOM late?

Linking up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching, Monday Making, Move it Forward Monday and more!

OMG September

OK, so I technically missed the cut off for the September OMG Goal link up. But I'm still making a goal and trying to accomplish it in Sept. 

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This month, I'm rolling over last month's goal and will sew the few Honey Pot Bee I completed (and liked) into a little top. Easy, right? We'll see!

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
May - Finish Little Baby Quilt Top - Finished!!
Jun - Baste and Tie Little Baby Quilt Top - Not Finished
July - Baste and Start to Quilt Little Baby Quilt - Not Finished
Aug - Sew Honey Pot Bee Blocks into a Top - Not Finished!

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August In Review

August was unseasonable. It was mild, cool, even! The weather was temperate, and we tried to relax where and when possible. But August was also busy and exhausting. 

Living in a beach town, where all the tourist flock, and who's getting more publicity each year, August tends to be insane. August is also when my blogging usually falls off and when I try to take some time off. I was undecided about taking a break right until the middle of the month. 

But in the end, I'm glad I did. My time off even carried over into September!

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August was all about seeing friends, exploring new places, seeing family, visiting our favorite places, and generally just keeping it together! 

We were able to visit old haunts, heading back to Brooklyn or stopping by a favorite petting farm.  We also explored new places, like going camping in a state park! Since the beach is covered in tourists, we shied away from going to the beach too much, but we did sneak in a few good days. 

We saw plenty of #watchercats this month, which always brightens a time full of work and toil. 

We worked a lot at our jobs, Summer being the busy time for the whole family, but we didn't get too much work at home done. No sewing or quilting really happened this month but we did get a little work on the house done when we started renovating our kitchen. We also did some yard maintenance in August. 

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We got to try some new restaurants and partake in all of the food bounty August has to offer. Tomatoes! Peaches! Nectarines! Arugula!

Although it was a hard month, with lots of work and stress, we tried to make the most of it and enjoy Summer when we could.

 We took much needed breaks when we could in August. Hopefully we will have an easier time in September. Let's find out! 

August Plant Update

We went exploring in the woods a few times in August, so we saw a some plants that aren't just hanging around the yard or neighborhood. What fun! We did a lot in town as well, which is always a lovely way to observe the plants!

We stumbled upon this wall of hibicus. 

We stumbled upon this wall of hibicus. 

And saw a million mushrooms. 

And saw a million mushrooms. 

My husband said that this day he saw more variety in one place at one time than ever in his life!

My husband said that this day he saw more variety in one place at one time than ever in his life!

Needless to say, we will be going back to this mushroom lush spot. 

Needless to say, we will be going back to this mushroom lush spot. 

These teeny flowers were so interesting!

These teeny flowers were so interesting!

This little guy looked like some kind of daisy/chicory highbred.  

This little guy looked like some kind of daisy/chicory highbred.  

Spotted this fellow in my driveway, on route to munch on that little weed perhaps. 

Spotted this fellow in my driveway, on route to munch on that little weed perhaps. 

Our wall of morning glories is in full bloom and fantastic!!

Our wall of morning glories is in full bloom and fantastic!!

We spotted this crane and a Great Blue Heron on a walk to Sunset Lake. 

We spotted this crane and a Great Blue Heron on a walk to Sunset Lake. 

It's been a lovely month to get out and explore, but buggy! I've been eaten alive! September should bring some great plant observations but hopefully with less bugs!

What are plants doing where you live?

YOTS2017 / Starting New

There is a pheonomonon in quilting, I'm sure you sewists know it, in which it is far easier to start a new project than to finish an old one. 

No matter how in love with a WIP I am, there comes a time in the project when starting something new becomes too appealing to resist. I love every part of quilt making, but starting something new is extra special. 

Starting a new work isn't bad, in fact for Year of The Stash, it's quite good!! For me, it means more stash is getting used. But if the abandoned semi-finished project still lingers in your home, is it still stash? I think for a project to be truly complete it must be used and useful. So while starting new isn't bad, it does drag out the finishes and that's not good.  

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It's been a few months since my last update and I can't quite recall if anything new has come into my stash. Since there is nothing I can remember, I'm calling it zero! Here's what my stash report looks like this month:
Fabric Added Since Last Update: Approximately 0
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 23.25
Fabric Used Since Last Update: Approximately 2 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 12.5 yd

What are your thoughts on starting a new project before finishing the old one? I know many quilters are like little butterflies, flitting from one project to the next with ease and grace. Are there any true blue one-project-at-a-time people out there? How does it effect your stash?

Something New: Succulent Care

On recent occasions, I've had two unconnected friends ask me to take charge of their succulents. I'm not sure where they got the idea I'm good with succulents, or plants in general. While it is true that I have many plants (46 at last count) some of which are succulents (18), I do not have a green thumb. With each and every plant, I'm holding on for dear life. It's been a lot of trial and error to get where I am today. 

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Succulents were some of the last plants I attempted to raise. The results have been mixed. I have some that I have brought back from the brink of death, but more often I haven't been able to prevent them from dying. 

For these new new adoptees, I repotted them and and have been keeping an eye on how they're doing. I find that I have to move a succulent around to several different spots in the house before they are happy. 

So far, I'm hopeful that these new additions to the family are doing well! Since succulent care is new to me, I'd be very grateful for any advice!

Bullet Journal Check In: August Blog Log

I've been trying out a new blog log over the last few months in my bullet journal. I'm not sure if Summer was the best time to try new systems, as I'm notoriously inconsistent at blogging during the Summer. Or maybe that's the perfect time to be tracking my blogging habits?

I usually try to take all of August off from blogging, but this year, it's felt like I've had the whole Summer off! I'm still deciding whether I should try to blog more rather than less in August. Either way, this new blog log layout helps me track my online posts. 

Are other Bullet Journalists using a blog post tracking method?

OMG August

Man, my OMG track record for 2017 is abysmal. But I won't give up! 

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What I am giving up on is Molli Sparkles' Honey Pot Bee. Although this is a great quilting bee, the last few months I haven't wanted to make any of the blocks. For this month's OMG I want to turn the blocks I did make into a quilt top. 

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
May - Finish Little Baby Quilt Top - Finished!!
Jun - Baste and Tie Little Baby Quilt Top - Not Finished
July - Baste and Start to Quilt Quilt - Not Finished

Linking up with Elm Street Quilts and OMG. 

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July in Review

Like I said last month, Summer is the hardest time for me to blog. It's the busiest season at work, and there's more to do each day in general. This month we unfortunately we suffered a loss in our family which made July even more stressful. 

But although we had sadness we also had good times with friends and family at home and away. 

July was a tough month, but it was a good month for learning, or relearning a few things. 
- Being outside and beach walks are centering even in tragedy.
- Keep your loved ones close. 
- I still love Brooklyn, and I'm still glad I don't live it there. 

Summer's chugging along, July went fast. August will be the busiest, and possibly most brutal, so let's go!