Something New: Intermittent Fasting

I would certainly eat all day if allowed. But for several weeks, I found myself eating unhealthily, eating right before bed, or naps, and eating food which I know doesn’t make me feel my best. I searched around for something to reset me, and put me on a better path with my eating habits. I decided to try Intermittent Fasting.


I had heard about intermittent fasting and decided to give it a try bc it seemed like it might help me get out of my eating rut. The idea behind IF is simple. Here is what wikipedia has to say about it:
”Intermittent fasting (intermittent energy restriction or intermittent calorie restriction) is an umbrella term for various eating protocols that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting over a defined period. Intermittent fasting is under preliminary research to assess if it can produce weight loss comparable to long-term calorie restriction”

When I have heard this term, people are generally using it to mean eating for 8 hours a day and not eating for 12 hours a day or some other cycle of eating and not eating daily.

People use it for weight loss, to reset gut health, to reset eating habits, as an elimination or allergy diet, and more. There are a lot of variations with people eating for less time, more time, different times. Many people do not fully fast for their non eating times but drink coffee, bullet proof coffee, celery juice, a smoothing, or some such other thing.

As with almost every trend I follow or try, I’ve taken a very relaxed approach to trying intermittent fasting. I decided that I would try to keep to the idea of eating for 8 - 9 hours per day and “fast:” for 12 or so hours per day.

I’ve tried this method for a little over a week and here are my initial thoughts:
- The first few days were very easy. I ate from about 1 or 2 pm to about 9 or 10 pm (for reference, I get up around 6:30am and go to sleep around 11:30pm, taking a nap in the early afternoon). I found I was a little more mindful about my meals, ate well, and I felt quite satisfied.
- Even when I was “fasting” I still drank coffee with nut milk, tea with honey, water, etc…
- By the third or forth day I found I was starving and broke my fast early and ate basically all day (as one normally would).
- I’ve worked like this for the time I’ve been trying this method, eating only 8 or 9 hours per day for two to three days in a row and then being ravenous for a day or two, eating whenever I want.
- I’ve noticed that the longer I eat like this, the hungrier I am each morning. I wonder if this is physical or psychological?
- It’s been hard to navigate events, or a differing routines. During the time I’ve been trying this eating method, I went away for a few days and it was hard to keep to only eating 8 hours a day, or eating and fasting at the same time each day.
- The easiest days are those when I stick to my normal routine and take a nap in the late morning, early afternoon. We already fast the entire time we are a sleep and sleeping more makes it easier not to feel famished.
- Most days that the method is working for me, I eat two large meals, one early in my eating time, and one later. There are days (especially when I’m working) that I nosh the whole 8 hours, but AI think I prefer the two big meals.

I feel like I could have initiated this trial in a better way. Perhaps slowly building up my fasting time over several days, or setting more defined parameters for myself. But as I have started the way I have, I plan to continue as such, adjusting as I go.

Have any of my readers tried this fasting method?

Something New: Hand Poked Tattoos

Disclaimer: This is not a tutorial. I am not a professional tattooer, and I am not giving anyone advice or guidance on this subject. I am only relaying my own experience and documenting my own journey.  

Two years ago I decided that I really wanted to learn how to do stick and poke tattoos.

Stick and Poke is a method of tattooing where one uses a tattoo needle to manually imbue ink into the skin with no tattoo gun or electricity. Stick and poke, or hand poked tattoos, are pretty trendy right now, but it is also an ancient tradition practiced by many cultures around the world. 

To start, I did a ton of research into this craft. I watched videos and read articles, as one should do when their goal is to poke permanent art into another's (or their own) skin. Eventually, I decided I just had to try it, so I invested in a few supplies (some research showed that many can be bought off tattoo websites or amazon) and started practicing. My research showed that practicing on fruits, pig skins, or fake human skins were the most common methods. I chose fruit. After a few months of practice on oranges, I decided it was time to test it out upon myself. 

I remain super pleased with how my first tattoo came out!

I remain super pleased with how my first tattoo came out!

Since I have several tattoos, I knew sort of what to expect. I had never gotten a hand poked tattoo before, and they are a bit different that machine tattoos, but nothing drastically different in method or pain level. It is much slower, which is why the designs tend to be more simple and the colors less.  

So far, my journey has been very slow going, and each year, I make it a goal to try and do more. After my first tattoo on myself, I did two more on my husband and one on my BFF.  I have plans with a friend starting her own hand poked journey to have a poke party soon, and I'm excited for it! 

As with many of my goals, I'm talking about it here to have a record of it, give myself inspiration and hold myself accountable. I love this space to be able to look back and check how I'm progressing on the things I want to accomplish. 

I'm really excited to hear what people what me to put on them with hand poking! My next steps are to start thinking of ideas and working up sketches. I've tried sketching them before, and it's been in my goals many times, but I hope having an end game makes me stick with it!

The first tattoo I made on my husband and my third tattoo ever.

The first tattoo I made on my husband and my third tattoo ever.

Do any readers have hand poked tattoos? What has been your experience with them?

Something New: Visible Mending

One thing I know I should do more of, as a sewist and as a someone on a sustainable lifestyle path, is mend my clothes and make repairs to my wardrobe. 


Since I get almost all my clothes second hand, or use what I already have, repairing my clothes will help them last longer. Since I don't use the sewing machine, sometimes my repairs can't help but be visible. But I am also trying to embrace purposely visible mending. 

I decided to try it out on pair of jeans I thrifted but that had a hole near the knee that was too big for my taste. For the patch I used a bit of old jean. I stitched one way with a blue cotton thread and in the other direction with cream colored purl cotton thread. 


I like how these came out, but 'll be interested to see how these wear and how I feel about them after getting used to it. 

Does anyone else use visible mending to repair clothes? 

Something New: Home Made Oat Milk

I've been allergic to cow's milk for as long as I can remember. So although, I prefer skim milk in my coffee, I rarely drink it and I never buy. My preferred non dairy milk, especially in my coffee, is rice milk. Non sweetened rice milk is the closest to skim milk, in my opinion. But rice milk comes in tetra packs and often has a lot of gross ingredients (canola oil, why?), when bought commercially. So recently I went on the hunt for a rice milk alternative. I have found a few that I enjoy, but when my husband brought home extra oats the other day, and it coincided with running out of milk, I decided to try making my own Oat Milk. 


I had been researching making my own non dairy milks for a while, but buying as many nuts as one needs can get expensive! Oat milk, as well as cashew, hemp and macadamia, was one of the milks I tried and liked when store bought. Oats are super cheap, and can be bought in bulk, so it was a no brainer to try making the milk. I read a bunch of recipes but in the end decided to wing it and make it as simply as possible. 


1 cup oats
3 cups cool or cold water

Fine mesh strainer (or cheese cloth or nut milk bag)

All the recipes suggest using rolled oat or stone ground oats, but all I had on hand were quick oats so I used those. Some say to soak the oats, some not. I soaked mine for about 10 minutes, maybe less. I added the oats and the water to the blender and let sit as I puttered about the kitchen. Next, blend on high, as high as you can, for 5 -7 minutes. You don't want to blend too long. Once blended, use a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth, etc... and pour into a jar. All I had for straining was a rather large stainer, but that worked fine. I just had a few oatmeal pieces in the jar afterwards. Refrigerate your milk. Makes about 1.5 pints. Use it in coffee, baking, etc... but shake before use! 

A few notes:
-Save the strained oat pieces, use as oatmeal for breakfast, in baking, etc...
-The recipes all say this volume lasts about a week but I'm almost done with mine 3 days in just from drinking in my daily coffees. 
-Don't heat this milk. Pouring it in coffee, or using in baking, is ok, but heating it on the stove will create a goopy mess. Think oatmeal without the meal. 
-Add sweetener and/or a pinch of salt if desired. I like my coffee unsweetened and even sweetened milk is too much for me.  
-Bring a spoon. This milk is a little gummy and heavier than most milk I'm used to in my coffee, so it tends to settle. I now have a spoon on hand to stir my coffee as needed. I also end up using more of this milk than I would another milk, so something to think about. 
-Make this milk zero waste and plastic free by getting your oats in bulk, recycling a jar for storage, and using the leftover blended oat parts.  

Over all, I really liked making my own oat milk. When I make my next batch, I will use more water to oats, to see if I like the consistency better. When I run out of our excess minute oats, I will try using stone ground to see if it ends up being less gloopy. I may make some sweetened to try it with cookies or for drinking. 

Next up, I plan to try rice milk! Who else out there makes their own non dairy milk? Tips, tricks?

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. 


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!

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?  

Something New: Spring Capsule Wardrobe Ideas

Despite having read a lot about and taken inspiration from Capsule Wardrobes, I have never actually made one. This Spring, I plan to actually try it. You may be thinking, but it is Spring! I know! Just two days after the vernal equinox I'm testing out some ideas, writing some goals and getting started. I hoping to have my Spring Capsule done and ready by the start of April. 

"What is a capsule wardrobe?" You might ask. Basically, a capsule wardrobe is a an assortment of clothing limited to a few key pieces (usually 33-37 items) that are the only ones you wear for a season. All your other clothes are either given away, discarded, or stored for another capsule. 

There are many reasons I want to try a capsule this year but a major reason is that, although I have cut way down on what I buy (and I almost exclusively buy second hand now), I still have far too much. This is true of several aspects of my life, but with my clothes it's out of control!! This seems especially unnecessary bc I mostly wear the same things over and over. For 2017, I'm focusing on reducing my things and the waste that comes along with having too much. 

I'm trying to make our house less cluttered and more usable. Reducing the ridiculous amount of clothing I have (and don't use) will help that. The space taken up with these could be better utilized and I am sure I can learn to live with less. I'm hopping that I can be more organized and only hold on to the items I really need. This will be a good way to continue to shop sustainably, either by buying second hand or buying clothing made in the USA, or by responsible makers.  

Here are some initial thoughts:
Style - I'd like to have one... Maybe this can help. 
Work clothes - Id like to dress a bit more thoughtfully at work. Why not dress more thoughtfully all the time?
Comfort -  Is paramount.
Things I love - Color, pattern, high wasted jeans, plain t shirts, sweaters, dresses and skirts with pockets, Vans...
Precious things - I want to wear clothes I love, not hide them bc I worry they will get ruined.
Practical things - I want the clothes I wear to be useful in all aspects of my life and not in only one or two situations. I want them to fit well, and make me feel good. 

I have tried some other wardrobe projects in the past, but I'm hoping this one works. I'll be checking in from time to time with more thoughts. I hope to keep a record of this experiments but also to open it up for discussion among my readers. For more info and inspiration on Capsule Wardrobes follow these links:
Be More With Less
The Blissful Mind
Rowdy Kittens

Anyone else new to capsule wardrobes? Already have one? What works for you?

Something New: Smoothie Bowls

When I first started seeing these bowls, in social media, or on the beach, I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. Sure, they were pretty and who doesn't like a big bowl of fruit? But what's the big deal?

In July, while my friend was in town, I finally tried a bowl. And it wasn't love at first bite, but I enjoyed it. But then a few days later I was still thinking about it. So I ate another one! Then I started making them at home. And I haven't looked back since. 


People love smoothies, they taste good, are pretty and good for you. It makes sense that people like a smoothie, add extra fruit, stuck in a bowl. Factor in that most bowls use delicious and exotic fruits like acai and pitaya which are super good for you. They tend to be topped with superfoods, and are a great way to get your fruits and veggies, protein, vitamins, and nutrients. 

But truth be told, I don't really like smoothies. I don't like the texture. Never been a fan. So why smoothie bowls, you might be asking?
And here's the answer: The ice cream effect. 

Eating smoothie bowls are like eating ice cream, with awesome toppings, for breakfast. 

As you know, I love new ways of eating fruits and veggies (like juicing) and this is another good way. If you like smoothies or if you don't like them, or if you just like ice cream, I suggest you try a smoothie bowl! Around me, there are many places that sell them, I hear you can get them at certain Wholefoods. But also smoothie bowls are super easy to make at home!

Since I started making them I have acquired lots of superfoods for topping, and frozen fruit for different bases, but here is a super easy beginners recipe with things you might already have on hand:

For the smoothie:
3 bananas (sliced and frozen at least 4 hours)
Handful of spinach. I use cleaned fresh baby spinach
A couple of tablespoons of milk (any type you like/have in the house will do. I've used almond and coconut.)
Optionally add any other fruit you like (frozen, fresh, or a little on the old and wrinkly side will do. The key here is not to out weigh the frozen aspect of the bananas).

For the toppings:
Go nuts!
Literally, use nuts. Or seeds, or granola, rawnola, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, superfoods, chocolate sauce, yogurt, oats, oatmeal, peanut butter, any other nut butter, honey, agave, bee pollen, coconut in any form, and on and on, etc...
My current favorites are; any local fruit I have on hand, chia seeds (these guys are so healthy and give a nice little pop), cacao nibs for crunch, and goji berries for chew. 

-Get your toppings ready first. I almost always fail to do this but it helps you get to your smoothie bowl faster before it melts (especially useful if you plan on taking photos of your breakfast). Lay out the toppings sundae bar style, or at least keep them in arms length. Have your bowl ready, as well. 
-Into your blender (whatever kind you have works fine) put the spinach and just enough milk to get it blending. This is the time to add any other non frozen fruit you may want. 
-Once the spinach is pureed pretty well, add the frozen fruit. Add more milk for a wetter, smoothie consistency, or less for a "nice cream" style smoothie bowl. I prefer the nice cream rout. 
-Pour your smoothie into a bowl and top with all the good stuff. 
-Eat up and enjoy!

Anyone else eating smoothie bowls? Give us your favorite recipe in the comments!

Something New: Bullet Journaling

I'm a list maker. I make a list everyday. I like to cross things off, to add things in, sometimes to add things in just to then cross them off.

But lists get lost, they get full, new lists need to be made. I'm also a note taker. But where to keep these notes? How to find them?

Even with my notes and lists, I'm not so great at self motivating for well, myself. Give me a job, at work, I'm all over it. But me telling myself I need to do some laundry, or complete a project, or any number of tasks I'm doing for myself, just isn't the same.  
When I realized that I would be working less, and being home more, I knew I needed a real system. 

That's when I discovered Bullet Journaling. I first found it through a link on Rowdy Kittens, and thought it was intriguing.

Bullet Journalling is an analog way to keep your to-dos, appointments, lists, events, personal notes, calendars, habit tracking, reminders, etc.... in one place and away from the internet/phone. It really appealed to me bc it's physical, simple, and easy. 
The idea behind BuJo is simple, keep every thing you need in one place, a single notebook. But the possibilities and variations are endless.

You can find everything you need for the basic set up in the Bullet Journal video. I really love that you don't need any special supplies, you only need a note book and a pen (of course, there is a special BuJo notebook you can buy if you want to). 
Bullet Journal suggests you set up 4 basic things in the journal: An index (where you keep track of everything in the journal), a six month over view or Future Log (where you keep track of large events, holidays, birthdays, etc...), a monthly calendar with checklist (which you make at the beginning of every month and where you keep an overview of that moths events and tasks), and a daily log (which you make day of or a day or two in advance and contains tasks, notes, etc... that pertain to each day). There is a set of symbols to use for each item on any list: a dot for task (to be crossed out when finished), a circle for events, and a dash for notes. It suggests covering these with a forward arrow to move to the next day or month, and a backward arrow to go far in advance (onto the six month overview). 
In addition to the basics, you can take notes (classes, meetings, etc...), make lists (movies to watch, books to read, shopping, and so on), track your habits (water intake, exercise, whatever!), set goals, track social media, log expenses, make charts, graphs, note the weather, draw, practice your calligraphy, and pretty up your journal however you want, to name a few. 
Many people fancy up their journals, making them sketchbook, inspiration book, note book, calendar, appointment book, scrap book, and diary all in one. They use washi tape, markers, fancy headers, stickers, mantras, and anything thing else one can think of. There are tons of site and videos to watch for inspiration and ideas. Some creators have reached near guru status.  

Most people seem to use either a Moleskien or the Leuchtturm 1917 journal but I just rummaged around until I found a blank book with graph paper that I already had. I use a black pen (either a uni-ball, or paper-mate). I don't make any attempt to make it pretty, I really use my Bullet Journal in a utilitarian way.

Here's what I have in my Journal so far:
The Index - My index is a mess! I wasn't really sure how I wanted to set this up so the first page is ugly. That's OK! One of the great things about BuJo is when you "mess up" you can just move on, keep going, and not worry about it. I changed the way I made my index from the first to second page, and I will most likely change the whole thing when I start a new journal
The Future Log - Since I started this journal in April, I made mine until the end of the year. I keep birthdays, holidays, and major events here. It's nice to reference back to when I'm like "when is Calvin's christening?" or "what month are we seeing the Violent Femmes?"
Monthly Calendars - I started this book in mid April and used that month as a test for how I would set up my monthly calendars. So far, I'm making them just the way BuJo suggests; I list the dates of the month, what days the dates fall on, and fill them in with events, appointments, and birthdays. I reference back to this when I need to see only one month, not my entire Future Log. 
Monthly Tasks - Next to each month, I put a list of larger tasks that I want or need to accomplish that month. These are mostly items that do not have a specific date to get done. I refer back to this list to see what I've finished without realizing it (cleaning the microwave) or to add to a daily list if I think I can. 
Daily Log - I use one page for each day of the week (except Sat/Sun, they share a page) to list the tasks I need to or want to get done each day. These can be as mundane as doing the dishes or laundry, cleaning the cat boxes, etc... I use this space for my work schedule, events for the day, and keeping track of getting work at home done. I use the bottom of each page for making notes about that day. I like to keep track of when I took a nap, when interesting things happen, or anything I think I might want to reference back to like "won at cards with Al and Sienna" or "opened all the windows today" etc... My Daily Log is by far my most used and most helpful pages. When the day is over, I make sure to move things forward and cross things off.
Habit Tracker - This is where I keep track of things that I want to get done or things that I do on a very regular basis, or that I want to keep track of how often I actually do them. I list things like exercise, quilting, drawing, juicing, watering the plants, and other things for each day of the week there. When I have completed it, I fill in the little box for the appropriate day and item. I have been doing a weekly habit tracker this month, but for May I'm moving to a monthly one. A nice thing about BuJo is that it's very easy to try new methods of keeping track. You can find what works for you. I think a monthly tracker will give me a better overview of which of these tasks I get done and when I do. If I see I'm not doing something on the regular, I can add it to my Daily Logs. 
Expenses/Earnings - I keep a weekly record of everything that I spend and everything that I earn. I divide one page in three parts, at the top I put my expenses and the date they were purchased, and in the middle I put my earnings for the week (from work, web sales, etc...). At the bottom of this page, I make any note I want to look back on. I'm working on a monthly overview for this as well, to see what I made, spent, and saved, what went to bills, eating out, etc... I haven't worked out how to best log this yet. Any ideas?
Lists and Notes - I keep a few running lists (my yard wish list, things I need my husband to help me with, long term goals...) and a few reoccurring lists (groceries, food that needs to be eaten, dinners for the week...). I keep some notes on budgeting (expenses and time), future projects, and other things.  I add to these whenever necessary. 

These are the symbols I use:
Dot ( • ) - I use the dot for an and all tasks.
Circle - I use this for events such as "work (10am - 3pm)", "drinks with Mike", "rummage sale". 
Dash - I use this for notes in my daily logs, expenses, lists, etc...
X - I X out all finished tasks and events. If I do a task twice, I add an additional X next to it (say washing the dishes twice in one day).
Forward Arrow - I use this when I'm "migrating" a task, when I move a task from one day to the next, or one month to the next if it's a monthly task. I use a double forward arrow when I'm moving something far in the future (more than a day or two). 
Box - I use boxes for habits. I also use them on daily tasks when the task was halfway completed. I fill in boxes as I go. 
Eyeball - I use the eyeball for a research task. Bc I might not need to get this done in a specific time frame, or bc it's easier than writing " • research how to make a bullet point with the keyboard". 

I've only been Bullet Journalling for about three weeks now, but I'm pretty sold. I'm excited to have a small, simple space for all my planning, and to add to it in the future. I can see it being becoming an essential tool in my lifestyle journey. And I can see improving on how I use it to an almost infinite degree. I like it as a day to day tool, but I also like seeing my progress, process and evolution in work and home life I can't wait to see that on a larger scale as weeks and months go by. 

Who out there uses a bullet journal? Share your experiences and links to pics in the comments!

Something New: Scrappy Pin Cushions

I'm sure we're not the only ones scrap busting in our house this year. Sometimes this is a hard activity for me. One way I'm trying to use up scraps this year is by making some scrappy little hearts. Another is to make scrappy over-sized pin cushions!

I try to pretty organically pick bits out of the scrap bins and match them together. I use a bit of scrap batting and pearl cotton or embroidery floss to quilt a quick handy design on them.  

I've been backing them all with a very soft cotton flannel that came in a friends destash. In most things, I don't like the grey, pink and blue plaid, but in these it's completely perfect. 
I fill them from a huge box of fiberfill that we've been working off of for two or three years... Now it's finally dwindling. I hear walnut shells are good for pin cushions. 

You can see the backing peeking out in the photo above. I'm hoping that they will be fun small things to sell at the markets I'm planning this summer. But for now, they are just fun little pillows!

On Quilting Community + Something New

Growing up, one of my best friends and nemesis was named Eleni. We were in the same homeschooling group and our moms were friends. I loved to visit Eleni's house bc she had a piano and her mom sang songs. Eleni had tall mice dolls that she made an amazing Borrowers-esque style doll house for, with acorn top bowls and stoves made out of egg containers. We celebrated cool holidays like Passover and Hanukkah. Eleni could be a brat, too, (as I'm sure I was as well) and sometimes we fought. Sometimes I was jealous of her dollhouse. We grew up and apart. Eleni became a stage actress like she always wanted. I hear she got married. Maybe she has children of her own now. 

I've been thinking of her recently. She was the only person I had ever heard of with that name. 

When I heard about Rachel's (Stitched in Color) daughter's difficult birth and the long, hard road they have ahead of them, I was heart broken. This is a person I've never met, will never meet and know only thru their website. I read all about how Rachel wanted more kids, and her struggles to realize that dream. She didn't write about it too much, and honestly, I never read those entries too thoroughly. It wasn't what I came to the site for. I certainly don't mind knowing about sewists lives, but I tend to read quilt blogs for inspiration in sewing.  
But at some point in the last few years, while reading that site for her quilting knowledge, I became emotionally invested in her life.

I was shocked at my own reaction; a tightening of the throat, and tears welled in my eyes. The only way I can explain it is that by reading these blogs, by writing them, we have formed a community. And when one member of our community is hurting, we all are. Our community fosters inspiration in sewing and quilting, but also in living, growing, and teaching. 

When I discovered Jodi's (Tales of Cloth) call to make #flowersforeleni, I felt compelled to join in, even tho I had only experimented with EPP, and never appliqued before. 

I'm linking this Something New up with  Kathy's Quilts  for  Slow Sunday Stitching  (a little late....).

I'm linking this Something New up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching (a little late....).

I must say, the results are not the best. Something went wrong with the measurements, I think.... And my applique is decidedly bunchy. But the intent of comfort was there and the prayer for healing. So I think they will do. 

I was very happy to be able to join in and feel close to the quilting community. Just as we hurt together, we heal together also. 

Something New: Little Hearts

Belated Happy Valentine's Day to all (if you're into that kinda thing)!! We don't really celebrate in our house, no fancy dinners, expensive chocolates, or bunches of red roses. But we do like hearts. Doesn't everyone?

Instagram  I took right after making my first block. 

Instagram I took right after making my first block. 

It seems like the appropriate season to post a new block I've made recently. The first little heart I made was from memory from a post by Cluck Cluck Sew. I used 4 HST and it turned out cute! 

But I decided I probably should revisit the post and see how I'd done. The tutorial was not exactly how I'd remembered it, so I made a few more blocks!

Some more wonky than the others....

We are stash busting in our house this year, so I paired the hearts, which came from very old pre cuts, with scrappy greens from the scrap bin. I was able to move 99% of that bin to 2 smaller bins, and organize, so it was a work and fun project! 
A lot of people have been following this tutorial over the last few months. Here are a few of my favorites: Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting, Random Thoughts... Do or "Di", and Film in the Fridge. And so many more I have seen, too many to find! Plus a ton on instagram #cluckclucksew.

Today, I'm linking up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday. 

Something New: Ohio Star

Back in August, I finished a quilt  that had the first traditional stars blocks I have ever completed. At the time, I thought they might be Ohio Stars (or a variation thereof) but I have come to learn they are Sawtooth Stars (or a variation thereof). I'm still learning about the traditional quilt blocks and techniques. Once my mistake was discovered I became interested in sewing an actual Ohio Star. 

In the last week or so, I have made some Ohio Stars, or a variation of the traditional block, for a gift quilt I am working on. Here is my (terribly wrinkly) first attempt: 

I'm not really a fan of ironing.

I'm not really a fan of ironing.

I'm working on a fairly tight deadline (can I do it?!) so, hopefully, you will be seeing more of this quilt soon!

Something New: EPP

The quilting world loves English Paper Piecing. I wanted to try it to see if I would, too. 

My first attempt. 

My first attempt. 

For those of you who may not be familiar with EPP (English Paper Piecing) Craftsy has a good article and how-to here

Basically, it's a method of hand piecing most used for small or intricate blocks or designs. It involves precisely cutting paper and basting fabric to it before sewing the fabric together for more exact piecing. Many people use basic shapes that are small and may be harder to hand or machine piece without some stiffness and stability. Hexagons are one of the most popular shapes to use.

EPP is known for it's portability. 

EPP is known for it's portability. 

The method is to precisely cut (or buy pre cut) shapes, cut fabric slightly larger, and baste it on to and around the paper. One you have a bunch of basted hexis (or what ever shape you might be using), you put them right side together and sew along the papers edge. You join the fabric covered papers like this, until you have the size and shape you like. Then you can remove the basting stitches and pull out the paper before finishing the piece by quilting, making a pillow, etc...

I had been wanting to try this method for a while bc many people swear by it. EPPing is known for being portable, small, and unwieldy, so I thought I might enjoy it. 

A pile of Octi and some that pieced together already. 

A pile of Octi and some that pieced together already. 

I'd waited before starting an EPP project, bc I had the idea that I would go and buy some paper templates. As weeks went by where I would look longingly at other peoples EPP projects, I realized I was never going to find time to buy the supplies I needed. So I found some stiff paper and some scissors instead. 

The very nature of EPP is to be very precise, my very nature is to be not very precise at all. 

But I forged ahead and cut some very wonky octagons. And then some very wonky squares to go with them, and set to basting. I basted as many as I could stand (like 6) before sewing a few together to see just how it worked.  After doing this a bunch more times, I found out how I preferred to baste the octis and how I preferred to sew them together. Although I had to make many adjustments as I went bc the shapes were not at all uniform, I eventually got into a rhythm. 

A lot of octis and squares sewn together. 

A lot of octis and squares sewn together. 

As with all my quilts, I didn't have a plan or sketch of what I wanted to do. I just made it up as I went along. And as always,  a vague plan started formulating. A pattern emerged and when it was time to stop, I stopped. After about a month I had completed the major part of the EPP project, and now it's set aside to decide what comes next. 

What I am about to say might shock and dismay some people. 

I don't love EPP. It's an interesting method, and I can see where it would be very useful. I didn't hate it but I found it achingly slow, and a little boring. Maybe it's bc I hand piece all my quilts already and this method is more for people who are used to machine sewing? I know I could have pieced the whole thing way quicker, and possibly neater, without the paper basting aspect. I also felt quite bad about all the fabric that was wasted. When I quilt there is rarely any unusable scrap left over. It kinda broke my heart to throw away so many tiny triangles. I found that as the piece got bigger it got harder and harder to handle. The stiffness of the paper became unwieldy and maneuvering became annoying. 

My favorite part is definitely cutting the basting threads and pulling the paper out. I like to see the patchwork all hard and stiff before, and then soft and subtle after. 

The back side of all those octis! You can see on the top left the papers have been removed. 

The back side of all those octis! You can see on the top left the papers have been removed. 

I was also not sold on EPP's portability or ease for travel. I pretty much always take my sewing on the go with me, and rarely find it overly cumbersome. But with EPP I had tiny scrapes everywhere, paper templates popping out all over the place, not to mention the scissors, needle,  and thread. And I had to have a special bag to carry it all in. Usually I just stuff all my sewing in my purse, but bc there are so many pieces of fabric and templates, etc... I needed more organization and therefore more stuff to carry. I was lucky enough to snag one of my husbands first zipper pouches, which did work wonderfully for the job. 

Library Card zipper pouch. 

Library Card zipper pouch. 

I will definitely finish the work. I liked the process and the result enough to make this one project. But bc I didn't like it a lot, I'm not sure what the project will end up being. Only time will tell. 

You just can't put black, purple and gold or orange together without it looking like Halloween. The bats don't help, I guess. 

You just can't put black, purple and gold or orange together without it looking like Halloween. The bats don't help, I guess. 

I'm linking up with a blog I love to read, Kathy's Quilts, for her Slow Sunday Stitching.