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! 

MCQBOM² / 5

This is sweet churn dash variation that I found from just searching google for simple blocks. I looked back at the link after I made it and you can find that here. I really like this small squares in this block for MCQBOM² . 

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This churn dash was sooooo easy to put together and really cute. I didn't get a chance to take a photo of all the blocks together but this one came out way smaller than the rest. I might add a boarder, but who knows!

I'm linking up around the web today. 

December Plant Update

A lot going at home on this month meant that not too many plants were mindfully observed besides our own house plants. We did get about and about to see some plants, luckily. 

 Guest room house plants have the best light. 

Guest room house plants have the best light. 

 Blurry new shoots on our eternity plant. 

Blurry new shoots on our eternity plant. 

 Our back yard just as the now starts. 

Our back yard just as the now starts. 

 And more snow in Ocean Grove. 

And more snow in Ocean Grove. 

 And a little festive snow. 

And a little festive snow. 

Were you too busy to plant gaze this month? Or were your plants observations on point?

I'm looking forward to a new year of plant observations in 2018!!

Best Nine 2017

I started finding my Best Nine on Instagram last year and I love it!! Instagram is really the only social media I participate in (besides this blog, of course!). I try hard to curate my feed and this year, I ended up starting two new instas. I now have a quilting insta (link above) and one for our new kitty, Irving. I did this bc I want my personal instagram to look a certain way, and it could easily get filled with only my cats and projects. 

These are my Best Nine for 2017:

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I think the above collage is a good representation of my aesthetic style and of my lifestyle. 

Below are my Best Nine from the last two years. As you can see, my feed is still mostly cats. 

 2016

2016

 2015

2015

It's interesting to look back and see the natural color themes of each year. It seems that since moving to the beach my palate has become more neutral and washed out. I don't really try to follow a color theme, but I do use a few favorite themes/filters. I notice that I naturally have "color runs" on my feed, where, over a few days, I tend to snap pics of like colored scenes. I guess this depends on my moods's eye. Does this happen to anyone else?

Who else loves Best Nine? 

Buddhism For Beginners

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

Buddhism for Beginners by Thubten Chodron is not the type of book I would usually read, but it was offered as a free audio book from one of my subscriptions so I gave it a try. I loved the reader, Gabra Zackman. 

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Growing up I was taught about multiple religions by my non religious parents. I had picture books about The Buddha, Shiva, Anansi... Although I had some previous ideas about the Buddhist methods, this book was a plain language, simple explanation of the Buddhist teachings. 

I won't be converting to Buddhism, but I took a lot from this book. It's core concepts of love, compassion, mindfulness, and careful speech, thought and action really resignate with me and my beliefs and ideals. This is a nice introduction to these concepts, plus the more complicated beliefs of Buddhism. It also gives the reader a good overview of the history of the religion and it's branches and how Buddhism differs from place to place. I really liked the reader for this book. The launguage can be confusing even in its simplest forms and the concepts can be daunting so it was nice to have a really pleasant reader for this introduction to Buddhist teachings and practices. I would recommend this book to those interested in learning about Buddhism, those who like self help books, books on history and culture, or those looking to be more mindful in day to day life.  

I listened to half of this book twice, I had started it, put it down for a while, and when I went back I decided to start it again. The calm reader, and the wonderfully peaceful ideas are soothing and easy to listen to over and over so this is a book I plan to listen to again and again. 

What books do you like to read more than once?

Zero Waste Recipe: Dry Shampoo

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. 

I don't really use beauty products. I don't put my face on, I don't wear makeup, I don't style my hair, I barely brush it. But I thought I'd talk about a few grooming staples I've come to know and love.

When I was young, I had to wash my hair every day. Had to. Or else it would become an ratty oily mess. Starting a few years ago, that changed. Now if I wash my hair everyday, it becomes brittle and dry. What the heck? 

While I still lived in Brooklyn, I found a dry shampoo in a spray can and tried it out. I had never used it before and it was great! I love dry shampoo. It allowed me to not feel totally gross between hair washes. Once I started reducing my waste and plastic consumerism, I figured dry shampoo was out. But I did a little research and not only did I discover that plastic free, zero waste dry shampoo was a thing but it's about the easiest recipe ever!

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Ingredients:
Arrowroot powder
Essential oils
Cocoa powder for dark hair

Equipment:
Container or shaker (I reuse one from Burt's Bees baby powder)

Combine ingredients and shake well.  I have blondish hair, so I omit the cocoa powder but I have head that for dark hair it works like a dream. 
To use, I either shake some on my brush or directly on my hair and comb through. Be careful not to use too much, you don't want to look like you're wearing a powdered wig. You can always add more! Make sure to comb or brush it through all your hair so it is coated and looks "clean". 

Now, this is easily a zero waste recipe. But truth be told, mine wasn't. I got the arrowroot in a plastic bag. Although I intend to recycle the bag, next time I'll get my arrowroot in bulk. Also, my brush and combs are plastic. I won't throw them away, until they are totally broken and not able to be used. But when my plastic brushes do die, I have my eye on a hand carved wooden comb from mermaidtrousers. I've seen some nice wooden brushes out there, too. 

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I also use this powder in my shoes in the summertime to keep my feet from getting sweaty. So from head to toe, I find this powder works great!

What are your simple zero waste beauty care swaps?

MCQBOM² / 4

For this simple, square heavy, Mad Cat Quilts Block Of the Month I took inspirations from Pat Sloan, once again. 

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I like this block bc it's easy to break into little units and piece together. I think this block would be a great one to bring for travel sewing. Below is the photo I used to create this block. Pat Sloan's sew alongs are great, and I highly suggest looking through them for inspiration. 

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I'm linking up around the web today, at Monday Making, Move it Forward Monday, and more. 

Mad Cat Capsule: Thinking About Shoes in My Capsule

While thinking about my next Mad Cat Capsule Wardrobe, which will be for Winter (Jan- Mar), I decided that one area of my wardrobe that makes me feel lost/overwhelmed/cluttered is my shoes. So I decided to really take a look at all my shoes, pare down, and think about adding what I was left with to my upcoming capsule. 

I have a lot of shoes that I have barely looked at since we moved, three years ago! Turns out our basement gets a little mildewy and I have not wanted to delve in and go thru (plus clean) my shoes but when I started feeling overwhelmed by my shoes, I knew I needed to. 

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I started by going thru all the shoes I had upstairs first, which were plenty. They are also the shoes that I wear more often and love well. These are mostly sneakers, some boots, and my flip flops which I live in in the warm months. While going thru, I made a list of all the shoes I found in my Bullet Journal. Next I moved on to the shoes in the basement. One of my goals was to pare down enough to only have one box of shoes downstairs. Since I started out with two boxes of storage, this felt like a really good, if a little challenging, goal. 

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At the end of the day, I had a small give away/throw away pile, a very small maybe pile, one box of storage, and a lot of shoes that I wear and can go in my capsules. Most of the shoes in my storage box are formal wear, sentimental, or super summer shoes. Those are going back to the basement. I also know that I have a few pairs of shoes floating around that I didn't capture in this declutter. I'll have to find those and determine if they are keepers. 

The next step will be to further pare down the shoes that I do wear, and break them into capsules. Right now, I'm thinking that I will try to incorporate my shoes into my Winter Capsule. I am trepidatious about this bc I'm sure this will up my overall capsule count. Even though my capsule is not about a set number, one of my goals is to reduce the amount of clothing I have and keep a smaller over all wardrobe. My end list ended up being about 40 pairs of shoes. Even though that includes shoes that I keep for sentimental value, that seems like an absurd amount. 

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Do any reader keeping a capsule wardrobe include shoes? How many shoes do you own, whether you keep a capsule or not?

OMG December

Although I did have a finish in November, I did not complete my November OMG. It was a month that I thought I would get a lot done, but it all went by so fast! December promises to be just as hectic, but I'm still hoping to get a lot done on a little ladder quilt that I've been working on.  

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That's a vague One Monthly Goal, but I'm gonna go with it!

I haven't had the most productive OMG year. Here's what my One Monthly Goal 2017 looks like:
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 - Finished!
Oct - Baste Little Blue Quilt - Not Finished. 
Nov - Baste Little Blue Quilt - Still Not Finished

Linking up with Elm Street Quilts + OMG, and around the web!

November in Review

November felt really short! The weather turned super cold, and brisk. We celebrated, saw family and friends.

 1) Rice milk every week. 2) Moon walks. 3) Pink sky at night. 4) An easy trip to the vet. 

1) Rice milk every week. 2) Moon walks. 3) Pink sky at night. 4) An easy trip to the vet. 

#watchercats were out despite the cold weather. We even had a run in with a look-a-like for our cat, Pit. As we pulled in the drive a bright cream blur streaked by. We thought for a moment that our Pit had managed to get out! But we quickly knew that couldn't be. Instead we met a sweet neighbor cat, and gave him a meal!

 1) Grooming in the sun. 2) hanging out in Convention Hall. 3) waiting at the beach. 4) A green groomer. 

1) Grooming in the sun. 2) hanging out in Convention Hall. 3) waiting at the beach. 4) A green groomer. 

Many friends came to see us or we went to see them this month which a treat! We got to see many family members, too! Most of our visits were happy, some bittersweet, and one sad as we said goodby to my paternal grandmother. 

 1) Pit classic durp. 2) Bittersweet. 3) Xmas cactus ready for a new month. 4) Another visitor. 

1) Pit classic durp. 2) Bittersweet. 3) Xmas cactus ready for a new month. 4) Another visitor. 

Overall, November was a good month, but it felt so brief and now looking back, it all seems vague. 

We still have December to go until a new year dawns. Can't hold it back now. 

TOM is a Cat Mat - A Finished Quilt

Last year (was it only last year??), I made a mat for Elvis. He was our 24 year old cat and he loved to sit in front of the radiator, but he needed some padding for his old bones. Almost as soon as it was completed, one of our other cats, Tom, wanted a mat, too. It took that year, but I finally have a nice mat for him to use. 

For Tom's mat, I used a lot of older fabric from my stash and a lot of vintage fabric. When I was done piecing the "TOM", I decided it needed some extra size and added some fun boarders. As with all my quilts, Tom's mat is completely hand pieced using no pattern. 

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I used one of my go to backing fabric, which was gifted to me by my Brother in Law. I wanted this mat to be extra cushy and soft, so I used two scraps of batting to make it extra lofty. I hand quilted this mat with cream colored cotton thread. 

I'm sure most people do not use regular sewing cotton as quilting thread, but I use it just like sewing, doubled and knotted. The only issues I've ever had with this is that it can bunch, and the doubled thread can get off balance, so that you have a longer loop from one of the doubled threads. But with careful slow stitching, I usually catch this with no problem. Sometimes, pulling the thread taut, I have broken the thread at the eye of the needle. When this happens, I simply rethread both the loose ends and keep going. 

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I bound this mini quilt by folding over the backing. Again, there is no measuring when I do this process so often the boarders vary in width on each edge. This mat had one little edge that was cut off, not square and I just folded the boarder accordingly, so one corner is snipped off. I had not intended this, but that was the way the quilt "wanted" to be, so I went with it! I really like the way it turned out and might try this technique again (on purpose!). I labeled this quilt very simply using another piece of the backing fabric. I liked the way the edges of the label were frayed, so instead of tucking them in, I sewed the label on the back of the quilt in such a way as to show them off. 

The morning I finished Tom's is a Cat Mat, which measures approximately 37" x 26 1/2", Tom himself was sitting by the radiator and I put the mat down ASAP. Of course he didn't go near the radiator again! But Flounder took advantage of the new, soft and warm, mat! Cat mats are for everyone to share!

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Tom likes his mat now and I'm happy to have a finish before the end of the year! This mini quilt is also on my Q4 FAL list so check one off for me! 

Linking up around the web this week. 

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Simple Swap: Cloth Napkins

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.

When first thinking about Zero Waste, I knew one simple swap I wanted to make was to stop using paper towels as napkins and start using a more sustainable option: cloth napkins. One day, I'd like to give up paper towels all together, but for now, we have to be satisfied with baby steps. 

I think a huge trap in many simple swaps or zero waste swaps is to rush out and buy something new. And it's so tempting, you start looking at all the pretty options out there (like these, these, and these). But I think it's super important not to give into the temptation. Zero waste isn't only about not generating garbage, it's also about making mindful, low impact choices for a more sustainable life. Simple swaps should be just that, simple. 

So I waited until I found just the right napkins, which ended up being at a rummage sale 4/$1. I was super happy to not rush out and buy napkins, but to get second hand plain yellow ones. 

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Getting accustomed to using cloth napkins didn't happen all at once. For a long time we still reached for paper towels or paper napkins, but gradually we started using our "new" cloth napkins. Now we rarely go a meal without them. One thing that helped was realizing that we don't need to wash our napkins every day, or after every use. If it's a particularly messy meal we will, but otherwise we can go two to three meals before washing. Cloth napkins are not for special occasions, they are for everyday!  

But don't take my word for it; here are two other articles about cloth napkins from Reading My Tea Leaves, and Going Zero Waste. It's great to see people making a simple swap that makes a great impact on the world's waste. Our next step will be to take our new found cloth napkin ways out into the world! Using a cloth napkin at our favorite spots that only offer paper napkins with be another great step towards Zero Waste and a simple swap. 

Who else out there uses cloth napkins? What are some of the benefits or challenges you have found?

November Plant Update

November has become decidedly cold. Trees changed colors and shed their leaves, we've had the first frost and more. Almost all our inside plants are happy, a few still need extra dirt. We acquired some plants from my grandma, mostly xmas cactus that bloomed almost immediately. 

 We rarely have cut flowers in the house. 

We rarely have cut flowers in the house. 

 A view to the back yard, behind the screen door. 

A view to the back yard, behind the screen door. 

 Our blueberry bushes, planted. 

Our blueberry bushes, planted. 

 This lovely beet. 

This lovely beet. 

 A walk around Sunset Lake. 

A walk around Sunset Lake. 

 Down in Bayhead. 

Down in Bayhead. 

 Bittersweet berries. I had never seen these before!

Bittersweet berries. I had never seen these before!

I wish we had got out more, to hike or explore, as the weather turned. Hopefully December we will get do make more pointed plant observations. 

What were your November plant sightings?

Bullet Journal Check In: Checking in with the Blog Log

In August, I wrote briefly about the blog log I have been keeping in my Bullet Journal. I predicted August would be slow on blogs, and I was right!

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The next few months were far better for getting blogs posted. My blog log changed a bit over that time as well. I like to keep a record of each blog in two ways, one by the day and date each blog is posted which is in the left column with a calendar. The other is a check list of type of blog category each post falls under. For instance, if it is a zero waste post, a new block post, a WIP, post, etc...This also has the date attached. 

 I use the space in between these columns to track how many, and when I post instagram pics on both my personal and my quilt based instas. It's easy to use these layouts to see how little I have been posting on the madcatquilts instagram. 

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In August I was still trying to track a Mad Cat Quilts Friday favorites weekly instagram post, but since I haven't been using that insta I stopped recording that in my layout. I do hope to get back to posting more there, and bring back Friday favorites one day. I was also trying to track how many and when I answer comments on the blog in this Bullet Journal layout. I see not answering comments is one of my biggest downfalls as a blogger, and I do hope to change this eventually. Since I didn't use that feature either, I also dropped it from my layout. Now I use the space for notes and ideas. I find this practice very useful.  

Who else uses BuJo to keep track of blog related things?

The Down East Murders

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

I picked up The Down East Murders at a local book sale bc it looked old and just a little bit corny. I was not wrong about this third in a series by J S Borthwick, it is a delightfully bad mystery novel. 

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I didn't realize this was the 3rd in a series when I picked it up, or I might not have. That fact doesn't even really become clear until a quarter way into the novel. But some relationships might have been easier to understand if I'd read the previous series. 

Sarah Deane doesn't mind slaving away at the local museum near her aunt's Summer home in Maine. She'll get to visit her aunt and with any luck Alex, the ruggedly handsome doctor/birdwatcher/ameuture slueth that has been in and out over her life the last few years. But when local artist's work starts disappearing, and then people start turning up dead, Sarah must turn her attention to investigation.

This was a pretty terrible book. Long winded, a bit boring, nonsensical, trite. But it was also exactly the kind of book I thought it would be and exactly the kind of book I was wanting to read!
This is the epitome of what I would call a beach novel; easy to read, light, forgettable. Read it one Summer, or every Summer. It's the kind of book I aspire to one day write!! It also feeds my love of books about shore towns, with it's focus on fictional Weymouth, Maine and it's crazy characters. I don't think I'd recommend this book. It was pretty poorly written. But if you're researching your trashy beach mystery, as I am, it might be worth a look!

Do you prefer silly fanciful mysteries?