Girt by me: my biggest challenge

One of the original intentions of the Girt by Sea quilt was to be a skill builder. To bring our wide community together to share skills. To try something new for those that don’t have a lot of experience or to be able to stretch your limits for those that do.

The first medallion was possibly the hardest for most – English paper piecing. But for me, I found it easy. I’ve been doing EPP for about 4 years.

Next up was HST’s and ECT’s. Again, not a new skill for me.

So this round is about applique. Thanks to my business making children’s clothes and toys, I’ve done quite a bit of both raw edge and fusible interfacing applique. So I thought I would try something different. Something new to me. Challenge myself!

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Lots of stitching on the go – here at the park watching the kids during school holidays!

I’ve never (ever!) done needle turn applique. It couldn’t be that hard right? I’ve done a bit of hand sewing in my time. Surely this will be a breeze!

Well …. it was. And it wasn’t. I was concerned that this method would look terrible if I was attempting perfect circles, so I decided to free cut circles from the 3″ squares. Kinda wonky square / circles, often referred to as Squircles.

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I arranged them in the style I wanted, again, they weren’t going to be perfect so not bothered by measuring the distance etc. And then I got to work. Perfect Netflix and sew style. Mmmmm I’m sensing a trend with my love of watching TV and sewing!

I’m sure my technique will improve. Perhaps I should have alternated the circles I was sewing, so all the first attempts, getting it right ones weren’t all in one spot!

I love how this is looking. Organic and imperfect. I feel like it’s the perfect balance and transition I needed at this point in my quilt. I’m still going. Each one is getting better. And I’m glad I gave myself this challenge in the quilt.

Happy appliqueing!



Five tips for using a sand paper board with Colby Radcliffe aka @theauthenticstitch

When I stared, shocked, into my Modern Makers swag bag at the retreat, the first thing that caught my eye was Sue Daley’s Sand Paper Board. It wasn’t because it has been on my ‘must have’ accessory list for a very long time, or because it was something that I’ve always known would make my creating much easier, but because it had my name on it. I know, I know… but when you have an unusual name, like mine, growing up, finding items with your name on it is almost impossible. So I may have let out a squeal when I saw the personalised board in our amazing swag bags.

Having a board that grips your fabric and stops it from slipping can make your creating a lot less frustrating. Here are my 5 favourite ways to use my new Sand Paper Board.


Before sewing up HST’s, I have always drawn a light line on the bias of the square as a guide. It was always a bit tricky, because as you draw the line across the bias the fabric tends to stretch, but when you use the Sand Paper Board it grips your fabric, and the bias doesn’t stretch, so it gives you an accurate line to stitch along.

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I recently created a mini quilt that had needle turn appliqué on it and I absolutely loved the process, so now I have this board I know that I can trace off my appliqué pieces accurately with out the fabric moving on me. This is a perfect tool for all of those that are making the Modern Makers ‘Girt by Sea’ quilt pattern.

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Ever since I tried my hand at English Paper Piecing, I have been drawn to fussy cutting fabrics to create an entirely new design within my blocks. This board will now take my fussy cutting to a whole other level of accuracy because there is no fabric slippage.

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This use is a very simple one but a great one. Because the surface grips your fabric I’ve been using it as a mini portable design board. It allows me to place out my EPP pieces to be able to see the full effect of the design I’ve created.

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Many of you may have seen my work that I have created with Inktense pencils. Because of the consistency of the pencil it can drag on the fabric, so using a Sand Paper Board keeps the fabric in place, and the slightly rough sand paper surface allows me to get a more solid coverage of colour, resulting in more intense saturated colour for the end product.

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Thanks Sue Daley!

And we asked Sue Daley if she had anything else to add to Colby’s tips and there is just one extra!
“Preparing fabric for traditional hand piecing using acrylic templates to mark your sewing line. Using the sand paper board stops your fabric from moving when you’re drawing on it.” 

Inheritance Patchwork

You probably know by now that Modern Makers’ mantra is to showcase and support Australian and New Zealand makers, designers and suppliers. There’s no better way to do this than to frequent our wonderful local quilt shops. More often than not, the owners of these shops aren’t there just to make a profit, they want to foster the community of makers in their area. So next time you’re about to place an order online, consider making a pleasant trip to your local quilt shop instead!

We sent our roving reporter, Maryjane Morris (aka @janiecat88), to visit the gorgeous Inheritance Patchwork and Wares in Birregurra and chat with owner Katrina Fisk. It’s a hard job but someone had to do it!


MJ: What drew you to opening a fabric store?

Katrina: Karen O’Sullivan was the instigator of original project, she shared her vision with the three of us (Katrina, Megan Doolan and Deb Cahill) and we all excitedly jumped on board. I must admit that our collective push made the start-up much less daunting. We found that we had a similar focus, and this enabled us to achieve more.  Karen had already sussed out the potential location of our store, and we all agreed that Birregurra had the right vibe.

MJ: How was the name derived?

Katrina: Karen brainstormed our business name, and we just loved it. By inheritance we mean: You can either make your kids inheritance in the form of heirloom quilts or simply spend it all now on fabric!!!!


MJ: What are your short and long term goals?

Katrina: Our immediate aim is to promote our business far and wide, and get our name “out there”. Ultimately, we would like to look at pattern design as well as expanding our premises to allow for classes, making Inheritance an “all day” destination venue. I have recently learnt the ins and outs of EQ7 and this is helping to design some really lovely quilts. In addition, we are hoping to get our on-line shopping capability up and running soon.  We do all have family and jobs to juggle, but being a foursome is very effective and allows for load sharing as well as support. Oh, and one day travelling to Quilt Market together would definitely be on our bucket list!

MJ: Can you describe your proudest moment?

Katrina: For Karen, this was seeing a total beginner quilter finish her first quilt. Such satisfaction! The quilter has now progressed to her next project, and this has added spark to Karen’s love for teaching, encouraging and imparting knowledge. For me, it has been the pure joy of realising my dream of opening a quilt shop. Bliss!


MJ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?

Katrina: All four of us have different tastes in fabric, so this has resulted in an eclectic mix in the store.  Fortunately, our customers love this and often comment on the refreshing mix of choices on offer. I love modern fabrics, Karen is our doyenne of 1930’s designs, Deb is our resident Liberty lover and Megan likes Liberty and a whole lot more! As far as specific designers, I do adore me a little Denyse Schmidt, also Cotton and Steel, who are just fabulous. Karen’s favourite designer is Sandy Klop who created the American Jane label for Moda.

MJ: Do you have any tips for creating fresh colour palettes?

Katrina: I tend to go on instinct, making sure there are pops of colour to spark the eye. I love the scrappy look and avoid an overly matched look. Karen often uses the trusty method of selecting a favourite print to start with and gradually curating a palette from that central theme.


MJ: What is current personal sewing focus?

Katrina: I want to make all the things!  I have so many WIPS on the go at the moment! I am currently working on a Liberty quilt, a Denyse quilt, Cotton & Steel and Kowa quilts, an EPP project…plus my knitting and crochet.  If I get bored, I pick up another project. I think it is important to strike when the mood hits, and not let that creative impulse/thought disappear before acting on it.

MJ: Finally, what would be your number one quilting tip?

Katrina: My top tip is this : it is important not to hurry your creativity, don’t rush it, enjoy the process!


Girt By Me: Growing With Girty

I don’t know when I knew my Girt By Sea quilt was female, but it was very early on.  Even when I was choosing fabrics, I was already calling her “her”, and named her “Flirty Girty”.  I remember talking about Girty with some friends while walking around the Australasian Quilt Convention in April and saying how headstrong she was. How Girty takes you on her journey, not the other way around.


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Making the medallion was like watching Girty grow from a tiny baby into a child with a personality all of her own, trusting me every step of the way to make the right decisions for her.

But Girty found her voice when I tried to add some of the neon pink spot fabric (that put the ‘flirt’ into ‘girt’) to the medallion border.  “Ugh. No way.” she said, tossing it aside in disgust. What tweenager doesn’t love pink? Girty, that’s who.


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By the time we got to the windmills round, Girty was a full-blown teenager, complete with raging hormones, body image and IG comparison angst.  And we had our first row.

“Stop dressing me all fussy and frilly! You’re making me look frumpy! It’s not who I am!”

I made many, many more windmills than required so I could audition lots of different layouts – all sorts of new ‘outfits’ for her – but with each one she fell to the floor in the despair that only a teenager can display and cried about how she hated herself.

“You’re trying to make me fit into this pattern that doesn’t suit me!  I can’t help it if I have lots of negative space!” At which point she slammed the door of her room and I left her to sulk.




The next day I crept quietly into my sewing room and looked again at the fabrics I’d chosen for Girty. The problem was they were selected way before I knew her. Before she even had a personality. And even though they were all great fabrics, I realised that I was trying to fit Girty into my vision of what she should be, rather than letting her be the personality she was slowly becoming of her own accord. If Girty wanted to celebrate her beautiful, fleshy, negative space then I was damn well going to give her room to do that.

So I loosened the corsets of the pattern, taking away some of the windmills to give Girty space to breathe. And breathe she did. She sighed blissfully as she relaxed, and smiled, finally feeling comfortable with the woman she was becoming.




Alison (and Girty) xx

Girt by Me: Dark and broody windmills

Wow that first month went quickly. I always intended to be a little ahead of everyone but here I am in month two and I’m not finished. I’ve come unstuck with not quite enough background fabric – I’ll be finished soon!

BUT, I have progressed enough to have some helpful hints for you!

I wanted a link from the previous round so have carried some of the colours across. The background grey is slightly lighter too. Round one was Kona Steel which is quite dark. This round I’ve used Kona Titanium and then I will use Kona Shadow (very pale grey) for the next two rounds and finally Kona White.

So scrappy windmills or all one fabric – I quickly decided that I preferred matching.

This round of the pattern includes two skills – Half Square Triangles (HSTs) and Easy Corner Triangles (ECTs) which create the rounded corner of the windmills.

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My tips for HSTs and ECTs:

  • Be careful with your 1/4 inch seam allowance, I’ve heard using a fine thread is good and using a ‘scant’ seam. I put some Washi tape on my sewing machine and also my 1/4 inch foot
  • You’ll be working is a bias cut so starch is your friend. Don’t pull the fabric too much.
  • Press don’t iron … press down rather than back and forth which can distort that seam line. I also finger pressed a little first and then used the iron.
  • Biggest tip – get your hands on a 2.5″ Bloc Loc ruler (you’ll use in the final round too). Combined with a rotating cutting mat, it makes trimming a breeze.
  • Nest your seams. When you sew your first two squares together, you’ll see that the seams naturally ‘nest’ together so they perfectly align. I sew the first two squares and without cutting the thread, sew the second two. Then open and sew the four together.

There is plenty of info and videos out there on Half Square Triangles but let me know if you want another Facebook Live Video and I can do one.

Guess what, I did get it finished at the Retreat. But I’m not happy. I need to unpick. My windmills were a bit bigger than the centre medallion. I made it fit but it doesn’t sit flat. So I’m going to unpick, make my ‘scant’ 1/4″ seams a little more like 1/4″ and re-sew.

I was going to try to do that before sharing this with you but you know what … I’m being open and honest and hopefully you will learn too!

So my tip here is measure your strip before attaching to check you are ok. I was rushing this on the last day of the Retreat and thought I could fudge it!

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Enjoy your HSTs


Girt by Me: After the Storm…

If you asked me to name my favourite colour, I would immediately answer that it’s teal. I got married in a teal wedding dress and I find myself drawn to anything teal or aqua or blue-y greeny.

Funny thing is that whenever I make a quilt, I pretty much always choose a rainbow of colours. In fact, I’ve become known for my rainbow sensibilities. Some of my friends even call me Rainbow Bright.

And so, it was probably no surprise that chose to use a saturated Alison Glass rainbow for my Girt by Sea quilt. Most of my crafty peeps would have been surprised if I didn’t!

Fabric Pull

Perhaps what would surprise them though would be to learn why I chose a rainbow this time and what it really means to me.

This Girt quilt was a real labour of love,  coming at one of the lowest times of my life. You see, I have been going through the most crippling anxiety and depression I have ever experienced.

Anxiety and I are old friends. I have lived most of my life on the edge – a high-functioning, always-with-me companion, driving me to do more, be more, have more.

I studied law, travelled the world, came home to practice law and then walked away from that path. I met my husband, got married, started a new career in recruitment, served on the board of a not-for-profit, had two children and then decided that I should start a business – or three.  So I started an Executive Search business, founded a charity that makes quilts for women in domestic violence refuges and become a 1/3 founder of Modern Makers Retreat.

I had everything I could want. I was achieving in my career, in my personal life, being creative and involved in service to others.

In social situations, I’m the life of the party. I’m most comfortable around people, hidden in plain sight.

Storm clouds had been brewing for the longest time though… my fundamental belief in myself – that I was not enough – pushed me to stay busy, to keep achieving, to fill my brain with noise so I didn’t have to be alone with my thoughts and the pain I was feeling.

EPP Medallion

Living with high functioning anxiety looks to the world like confidence, energy and achievement.

In reality, it feels like you are raw. Like every nerve ending is exposed and every emotion could set you on fire. It leaves you completely vulnerable – like you’re naked, flaws and all, in front of the people who mean the most to you. And you’re ashamed and don’t want anyone to know how bad it really is.

It sounds like “you’re not enough. You’re a bad person. You’re a terrible mum. No one likes you. They know you’re a fake. You’re fat and undisciplined. What sort of an example are you for your kids? – you’re a mess. You can’t run a company. Why can’t you get your shit together?”.

So I got busy as a way to drown out the voice in my head.  My life became a finely choreographed dance designed to exhaust me and that voice. And suddenly, I was hustling for my worthiness.

Then… well… then I broke.

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So I did the only thing I had been running from for the longest time. I stopped.

I stopped and stepped back from nearly everything, but especially from the busy. I started seeing a psychologist and I asked my friends and family for help. I exposed myself and was more vulnerable than ever before. I sat and just listened to what my body and my mind was trying to say.

I challenged the mean girl in my head and I let the storm rage inside of me.

Then… I looked for the rainbow.

The rainbow in new friends who stood by me, in a husband who loves me no matter what, in the beautiful children that adore me and the creative process that became this beautiful quilt.

I am Girt by love and storms and rainbows. I am learning to believe in my worthiness.

Some days it’s seems like an impossible task. Nevertheless, I persist. And I’ve discovered that vulnerability (just like Brene Brown says in her TEDx talk) is the birthplace of creativity and belonging.

My life looks a lot slower and more intentional now.

They say the greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow – my rainbow is practically radiant.

Full Centre Medallion

Mental health issues effect everyone and in different ways. I’ve learnt that it is ok not to be ok. If you are reading this and struggling, know that you’re not alone, that there is help and that in time things will get better.

If you need to – reach out and get the help you need:

Lifeline Australia 131114

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Much love

Jackie xx

Cutting Time

Have you seen that our major prize for the Girt By Sea sew-along is a Go! Cutter Starter Kit from Accuquilt Australia?

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Once you’ve used one of these brilliantly simple machines, you’re guaranteed to want one: I know because we all ended up buying one after we’d tried it out!

If you already have access to an Accuquilt cutter and are taking part in the Girt By Sea sew-along, you’ll definitely want to know which dies you can use to save time and energy cutting, so here goes…


Centre Medallion

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) for the third border of the centre medallion.




  • The 2.5” HST (AQ55018 or AQ55063) can be used to create the windmills.
  • Or use 4.5” square (AQ55018 or AQ 55060) and 3.5” square (AQ55006) for HST two-at-a-time and four-at-a-time methods.
  • The 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) can be used to cross-cut the 1.5″ squares and also for the outer border.

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Fruits of the Land

  • The 2” Applique Circle (AQ55012) can be used to cut the circles.

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Ragged Ranges

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) and then cross-cut into the various strip lengths.

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Multicultural Friendship Braid

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) to cut the border strips, and also cross-cut some of the background fabric.
  • The 4.5” square (AQ55018 or AQ 55060) will cut the border corners.

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If you’ve never used an Accuquilt Go! Cutter, now you know how useful they are.  So get Girting to be in the running to win one!


Girt By Me: No Woman Is An Island

The Girt By Sea quilt was designed especially so that we could all sew along together and learn/master some of the skills involved, sharing tips and tricks and encouraging each other to give it a go.  We want to harness the wonderful support that quilters have for each other: helping to work out which colour should go where; reminding the over-thinkers when to step away from the design wall; being honest when the unpicker needs to come into play; calling for the smelling salts when someone posts something so incredibly beautiful that we go a bit lightheaded….

It’s such a thrill to see quilters from all around the world joining in and making new friends through the sew-along.  Katya Wolfram of @madeatturnpikecottage is relatively new to the wonderful world of quilting and decided the Girt By Sea sew-along was the perfect place to learn new skills under the gentle guidance and encouragement of a global tribe of likeminded makers.

Here’s Katya’s Girt By Me story.

Always running behind the times (by a decade or so) I finally joined Facebook in September 2016 and Instagram a month later.  At that time I had made a grand total of two quilts ever – one even had binding!

You see I have always been a stitcher: I design my own cross stitch patterns and enjoy creating hand embroidered pieces.  However, I was instantly in love with Instagram and the quilting community within it.  What a wonderful, giving and friendly bunch you all are!  No more sewing alone for me, or boring non-sewists with tales of mismatched seems!



Shortly after I discovered Modern Makers, the buzz was all on Girt By Sea and I knew I was hooked.  It was just what I was looking for: something big, you know, throw myself in at the deep end.

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Now to choose the fabric.  Never having been to Australia, but having lived my whole life on another island (Britain), I decided to use islands as my theme.  I am loving my island centre with its turtles and circling sharks.

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But the best bit is joining in with everyone else and seeing how one pattern can look so different so many times over. And of course feeling like you are sewing with friends.

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Of course this centre round being EPP is well within my hand-stitching comfort zone. But in round one watch me literally come apart at the seams and loose all the points on my pin wheels!

But I’m sure some of you will be there to guide me through.

Katya x

Does your Girt have a story to tell? Drop us a line and let us know what Girt means to you.

It seems to us that Girt has a life of her own: she’s taken many of us on an unexpected journey. It’s never too late to join in the sew-along: click here to buy the pattern. Where will Girt take you?

Girt By Me: Angel in there somewhere

It’s become clear to us that the Girt By Sea quilt isn’t just another quilt pattern. As people post photos of their fabric choices on Instagram (#girtbyseaquilt) and explain why they’ve chosen that particular palette, we realise that a lot of people are sewing a story into their Girt.

Here Sue Clarke tells us the beautiful story behind her Girt quilt.


I needed another project like, well you know – you’ve been there.

I resisted the temptation to join in the Girt By Sea sew along for a while but then I read something on the Modern Makers Retreat blog that really resonated with me and from that moment I was in. Let me set the scene by sharing a little history…

The person I most admire and the person l am most proud of in this world is my mum. She went through some very difficult times and when my dad walked out he left her with three small children and a mortgage on the house they had just purchased. At the time she was a stay at home mum but instead of crumbling she found a job, worked her tail off, put herself through night school and eventually qualified as a hospital administrator and auditor. Through sheer hard work she managed to keep the house and raise three children with little assistance from my father. Life wasn’t always a box of chocolates, but my sisters and I never went without. She was an incredible woman, never judgmental and always supportive of the decisions my sisters and l made (whether they were good or bad). She showed us by example how to be strong, resilient women.

Now, how is this all relevant to the Girt By Sea sew along? Well sadly mum passed away early on in my quilting journey so I never had the opportunity to make a quilt for her. In all honesty, it hasn’t really been something l have dwelled on but when I read this post something changed. I can’t say why but my mum popped into my head as I read the words “there’s no place like home”. Girt means to surround, and at that moment I felt my mum’s presence surrounding me and I knew that I had to make this quilt for her.


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With the decision made it was time to settle on what colour scheme to use. Normally I would revert to my favourite scrappy ‘throw everything but the kitchen sink in’ kind of style but I wanted this quilt to be different, it had to be done in mum colours. She loved autumn tones of browns, mustards and burnt oranges – all colours I rarely use so it took me some time to settle on a colour palette. I wanted to honour the autumn tones mum loved but needed to add a little punch.


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As much as l love the vibrancy of this palette I must admit that I am also terrified by it. It is so far out of my comfort zone but I think that is quite fitting. My mum is proof personified that you can work through adversary and succeed. Knowing she is on this journey with me, guiding me, I am embracing the challenge and excited to finally be making a quilt for her.


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I’m still working on a name for this quilt but I am sure it will have the word “Angel” in there somewhere.


IG: @curlyquesue
Blog: Curlyque Sue

Does your Girt have a story to tell? Drop us a line and let us know what Girt means to you.

It seems to us that Girt has a life of her own: she’s taken many of us on an unexpected journey. It’s never too late to join in the sew-along: click here to buy the pattern. Where will Girt take you?

Girt By Me: Exploring the Dark Centre


I think this centre medallion was the most exciting part for me. I love EPP! I actually have three projects on the go right now. Wait … four! I love hand stitching and will happily go home at the end of the work day and stitch a little while watching Netflix!

I think the most difficult thing for me was deciding how it would look. My interpretation is very different to the pattern. But that’s the beauty of it right? It’s my interpretation. Making it my own.

I knew I wanted it to be dark and moody but have light and shade so you could see the defined star. The darkest fabrics are used in the middle and then surrounded by the greys.



My tips for EPP:

  • I use Sewline glue pen though I’m told that a regular glue stick works just as well.
  • A rotating mat works well when you are cutting these templates. I also have a mirror but I didn’t fussy cut or pattern match with this EPP.
  • A fine needle will be so much better. I use these number 11 Milliners needles. I pick up just two threads on each side of the papers so the fine needle is perfect!
  • I know everyone loves the new Aurifil 80 weight but I use Bottom Line Thread 60 weight. I’ve just bought some Aurifil to try. First attempts I kept breaking it as it is so lovely and soft. I guess I’m tough when I’m hand stitching.
  • I just bought a rubber thimble on the weekend and getting used to it. Not convinced yet. Might need some of those dots?
  • Highly recommend taking a look at some videos before you start. You really need to be careful the direction you glue the fabric down (I did well with the centre papers but a little iffy on the outside pieces).

I talk about these tips and answer a few other questions in the Facebook Live video I did last week, which you can find here.

I’m by no means an expert but having done this for around 4 years now, probably more advanced than a newbie. Hope I’ve helped and if you have any questions – let me know!


Happy EPP’ing


PS. In the interest of being honest and transparent … and trying to help others, here is my ‘behind’!