Tuesday, July 8, 2014

June 2014 Cooking Challenge

Due to the aforementioned busy month, we didn't make a whole lot of new recipes in June, but we still managed a couple. We were actually without air conditioning for a couple weeks, so the goal was quick meals that could be cooked on the grill or with just a quick heat up of items on the stove.  By the end of the month, we were back in business, but then clearing out in preparation for vacation, so rather than making lots, we were trying to eat everything in our fridge! 

Whoops, I wrote out this whole post, then went to add the pictures and discovered that I missed a recipe! Early in the month, we made chicken from a recipe right off the Hidden Valley Ranch bottle - Jenna spied it when we were having salad one night and batter her eyes at daddy to request he make it for her.  It was a great recipe, and although I am not completely sure, I think it is this recipe from their site. I seem to think ours also had some cheese in it, but the rest of the recipe seems right. 
The first recipe for the month was Lemon Pepper Chicken - which I had pulled off the bottle of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire for Chicken (formerly known as White Wine Worcestershire).  This has become increasingly harder to find, but is a great sauce and I use it routinely on chicken.  This recipe was perfect - the chicken was still moist and was flavorful.  If it had required a whole lot more work, I don't know that I'd go to the effort, because you can get a very similar taste with just the sauce and some lemon pepper, but since Mike was cooking, the effort was fine by me ;-) I couldn't find the recipe on their site, but if you are interested in it, let me know and I will send you a copy.
Lemon pepper chicken with Naan bread
Next up was Mmm Meatballs, which are actually Chicken Parm Meatballs. They got the funny name because I had turned down the corner of the page when I copied it, so the only thing left in the title was "m meatballs." Let me tell you, they were every bit the Mmmmm. We all loved them and will definitely make them again.  Once again, I am very sad that this magazine is out of print (Everyday Food). 
The third recipe of the month came after a hot weekend of camping. We arrived home and just chilled out (literally). We had no interest in warming up anything or even eating anything warm, so it was a good night to have Lemony Shrimp and White Bean salad.  It was a perfect meal served over lettuce (from my garden, as was the dill!).  This is a recipe that is even better a few days later. I took it for lunch mid-week and enjoyed it more then.  
Next in the lineup was a recipe from one of my cookbooks, and it was Nut Crusted Fish. I used pistachios (thanks to my neighbor for supplying them) and cod.  The dish was easy to make and really tasty, but the fish itself wasn't that great. I think I'd try this one again with a fresh fish. 
The final recipe of the month was a dessert - "Sakes Alive" Chocolate Fudge Bars. These were made using the Martha White cookie packets, which I hadn't used before because I don't find it that hard to whip up a batch of cookies from scratch.  It was all going well in the preparation, but once the batter went into the oven, the chocolate layer started to cave in.  I wound up cooking the mix about 15 extra minutes, and even then, the interior was pretty gooey.  The outer edge was well cooked, so I decided to pull them out.  The verdict on these was that they were really too rich, and not any better than a traditional pan chocolate chip cookie. This is a recipe I won't be keeping to make again. 
Sakes Alive is right! These sure don't look like the picture online!

Hope you enjoyed reading about this month's adventures! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

June 2014 Accomplishments & Four Goals

I had a very busy June, with a work meeting that I was in charge of to start the month, a weekend of camping, and preparation for vacation. Between them, we also had the end of the school year and start of summer camps, and that can be a little bit of a crazy time. Even with all that going on, I managed to get some good sewing in during the month. 

My four goals for June were: 
1. Quilt Barbara's modern top - done and blogged here
2. Make teacher gift(s) (I know I will make one...not sure about the second) - I did only make one - got it finished on Thursday night for the last day of school on Friday! Blogged here
3. Make back for and quilt pinwheels - done, gifted yesterday, and to be blogged about soon. 
4. Quilt a UFO - didn't even pick one out to work on. 

For July, my four goals are: 
1. Finish honky tonk top
2. Quilt & bind honky tonk 
3. Do some sewing while on vacation
4. Do some finishing work on a cross-stitch (I have lots done, so there will be several to choose from).

I am pretty pleased with what I finished on my goal list considering everything that was going on. 

Here's the full list of my accomplishments for the month: 
- Made a tea towel and tote bag for a future birthday gift

- Quilted Barbara's Modern top
- Made back for, loaded, quilted, and attached binding by machine to disappearing pinwheels quilt.
- Made bag for Jack's teacher as an end of the year gift. 
- Cut out my next quilt top with fabric from one of two quilt shopping trips I went on during the month. 

I had a respectable 16 1/2 hours this month - it is amazing how quickly that number moves up when you actually get going on a few projects (deadlines are a good thing!).  

Hope you had a great June too and were able to work on whatever projects were on your list. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Quilt #9 - Barbara's Modern Quilts

The ninth quilt that I quilted this year is for Barbara - a bee-mate of mine who shows up with a top for me every once in a while. She gave me this one a while ago and told me no rush.  She said she wanted white thread and something round/circular for the pattern.  
 Once I finally got going on this top, it quilted up beautifully. Barbara always does a nice job with her piecing and makes backs that are nice and big, so they are easy to get on the frame and keep square.  

For the quilting, I decided to use my white cone of Auriful thread. It works as nicely on the longarm as it does in the regular machine.  I thought about doing the Bubbles panto on this top, but I can't get the bubbles looking quite right - lots of bobbles in my circles.  I decided that I would rather freehand and went with large spirals.  
I am really pleased with how it came out and the good news is that Barbara is too! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stash Report - Weeks 25-26 2014

It's time to fess up, because I did a little shopping...again!  This time was a bee field trip so at least I can blame all of them who were with me ;-)

We went to two quilt shops that I hadn't been to before - Fabric and Friends in Roanoke, IN and Sew Biz in Marion, IN. I had a good time at both shops and picked up quite a bit.  There is a new book, 6 patterns, a handful of fat quarters, some D-rings for purses, a glue stick, some papers for a pattern in the book, a new template, and two large cuts of fabric (one was on sale and the other I've passed up too many times and couldn't leave it again!). There is also an issue of Stitch magazine, which was a freebie that my mom's boss picked up at Market.  You can see we had a good time!  We stopped after the second shop at a McDonald's to get some coffee/tea/soda and had a little show and share right there in the dining room - I can only imagine what the other patrons thought of these women oohing and aahing over fabric and patterns. 

The (slightly) good news in comparison to the shopping trip is that I did get a project completed last week, which is a good thing because it was a teacher gift and the last day of school was Friday!  I also cut the binding for my disappearing pinwheels quilt, which is off the frame, trimmed, binding added, and ready for hand stitching.  

The purse is the Lazy Girl Designs pattern called Candice, which is the most recent purse pattern I've bought (from this trip).  I used a pretty stiff interfacing on it, so the bag stands up well. It makes it a bit of a pain to put together, but I like the end result. 

Here's a picture of the purse interior. This is why I like Lazy Girl patterns so much - pockets everywhere!  I like to have high contrast inside my purses so it is easier to find things, and yes, the pockets on one side are supposed to be taller than those on the other side. 

Here's the result of the last two weeks: 
Fabric added last two weeks: 7 yards
Fabric used last two weeks: 2 1/4 yards

Fabric added year to date: 26 1/4 yards
Fabric used year to date: 29 1/2 yards

Net fabric used: 3 3/8 yards 

Yikes - I am getting awfully close to even - hoping to get some tops done in July so that I can make some progress on the numbers....if I can just stay out of new quilt shops! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Quilt #8 - Miniature Irish Chain

When I finished the Batman quilt, I still had the desire to keep going, and I didn't want to lost momentum by having to make a back or load something really big, so I dug into the UFO box of Lois' old projects, and I found a finished top and back - a Miniature Irish Chain.  She had this one all pieced into strips, but hadn't joined them together. A long while ago, Debbie in my bee finished the top, and then I made a quick back with some scraps that were left in the bag. The binding was even made and waiting for me.  

We'd had a chat at bee about how to quilt this one so as not to ignore the pattern, and I found up quilting it very lightly with figure 8's through the outer border and chains. I stitched in the ditch for the inner border, and did back and forth loops for the middle border.  Even with the custom quilting, this one didn't take long at all. I think it was on and off the frame in an hour. I was even able to use a batting scrap for it. 

The top thread for this one was Rainbows and I paired it with So Fine. They worked very well together. I was using a spool of thread instead of a cone, so used my horizontal spool pin and that seemed to do the trick.  I tried Rainbows one other time and had no luck with it, so am really glad that it worked well this time. The finished quilt (with binding applied on the way to a graduation party) is about 12x18-20" - it has a larger cousin that I hope to get on the frame before too long. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quilt #7 - Batman

Way back in the fall, I got a facebook message from one of our former childcare teachers. It included a fuzzy picture of a quilt with a Batman logo on it and she asked if I would be willing to make a similar quilt for her to give as a baby gift to one of her best friends. I shared what would go into it, quoted her a cost, and she said to go ahead. I then promptly forgot about it and went along my merry way through the holidays, the cold winter, and early signs of spring. I even went on a retreat and never thought about it. Then, one day I was cleaning up my facebook messages and found it...whoops! I wrote her back and she said the baby was due in May so there was still plenty of time.  Back around here, I started pulling fabrics and cutting squares. I used mostly fat quarters for the top, with just a little yardage coming into play for the borders and binding.  The top went together pretty quickly, and then we had to coordinate a meet up for me to get the backing and batting from her. 

I got the back made, with a little extra from the leftovers from cutting squares, and then loaded it up on the frame. I used a tan variegated King Tut on the top and a gold bottom line in the bobbin.  I did have some challenges with the thread in the beginning, and I think it was the batting. I am not sure what brand it was, but it wasn't something I would pick. You can see in the picture below that I had a few thread bobbles. I get these on most of my quilts and I am not sure if it is a tension issue, a needle issue, or a thread issue. This quilt shows them a little more than the others, because it is a mostly solid back. I hope that they won't stick out too much once the quilt has been washed and dried and crinkles up a bit. 

In the end, it worked out fine and the top quilted up nicely. I did a stipple all over it. I am glad to have this one finished and am pleased with the way it finished. It is a little more than 50" square, so should be a good size for the baby to snuggle with for many years to come. 

I had so much energy after finishing this one, I immediately loaded another quilt - come back tomorrow to read about that one. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

May 2014 Accomplishments

It has been a very busy month for me so far, so I am just getting around to documenting my quilting accomplishments from May.  I had a fair amount of quilting time in May, and here's what I got done in my 15 1/2 hours of quilting: 

- Made back for, loaded, quilted, and bound the Batman quilt
- Finished disappearing pinwheel quilt top
- Finished my new purse
- Made a thread catcher for my neighbor 
- Loaded and quilted Lois' mini-Irish chain 

- Wallet for Jack
- New iPad cover
- Fabric framed a baby cross-stitch gift (I haven't mailed this yet and want the mom to see it first, so will post a picture once it has arrived). 

I got all four of my monthly goals completed and more! It is kind of exciting to have all those projects crossed off the list. 

My mom and I also went on a day trip to the NQA show in Columbus, OH.  The show was more expensive that it has been in the past, and had fewer vendors and maybe fewer quilts, but we still had a good time visiting quilt shops and having a couple good meals. 

Hope you got a lot of your to-do list checked off in May!