2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Sunday, January 15, 2017

December Cooking

We tried a few new recipes in December, most of them related to the holidays. I was a little lax in taking photos, so you'll have to use your imagination for a few of them. 

We started off the month with a tasty meal called Cuban Pork, from the Quilter's Cuisine cookbook from the Central Florida Quilt Guild, a gift from a friend who use to be part of that quilt guild. This one had lots of easy ingredients and was pretty easy - throw everything into a ziploc bag and let it marinate for a day, and then roast it. The pork was pretty tasty and is a nice way to dress up a plain pork tenderloin. 
Early in the month, Jenna decided she wanted to make a new dessert for dinner with our friends, and after looking through the dessert recipe folder, she decided on Apple Crisp with Oat Topping. She powered through peeling the apples, and then had some help from her dad when he decided to see if he could peel apples with his drill (it worked!). With the speed of peeling via drill, it made the whole process a lot quicker! 
The next one I have a picture of is the pie I made for Christmas dinner - it is the Southern Pecan Pie from Fix-it and Enjoy-it Cookbook, one that we go back to time and again. I also made the pie crust (and I am not great at them) from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Clearly, I need a little more practice to make my pie crusts pretty, but the taste is okay, and the pie turned out well overall. 
In addition to the pie, we were busy making cookies the week before Santa arrived. I planned to get a nice picture of the cookies out for Santa, but I totally forgot in all the activity on Christmas Eve. We tried three new recipes - Sugar Cookies from a cookbook my mom gave Jenna, No Bake Cocoa Bourbon Balls (this recipe plus 1/4 cup bourbon), and Outrageous Cookie Bars. They were all great, but I have to admit I liked the bourbon balls most of all! 

My husband also did some Christmas Eve cooking, as he made his mom's Sweet and Sour Meatballs, a recipe that she's made for years on Christmas Eve. When she didn't feel like cooking this year, his sister took on the coffee cake recipe (she makes one for each family to eat on Christmas morning) and he took on the meatballs. He had to do a little running around to find the right kind of jelly (I can't even remember what kind of jelly he used, but it is unusual), but they turned out great. It turns out she had two different recipes and the one she had given me wasn't the "right" one, but one of his sisters came to the rescue and provided him with the right recipe in time for him to get the meatballs made. They bubbled away in the crock pot all afternoon and slowly disappeared! 

Hope you all enjoyed some old standbys and some new treats over the holidays! 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2017 Goals

Well, we are a couple weeks into the new year and it has started off pretty well for me - a few days off at the start, and then back into work and nicely busy. This weekend was a good one to pick up the holiday decorations and take out the tree, but I've left a few decorations up that are more winter than Christmas. Even so, the house always looks quite bare after the Christmas decorations come down. 

On to the goals part - I am not sure how a goal is that much different than a resolution, but I like that word better, so that's what I will use. This year, I am going to use the same concept for my goals as we're using at work - prioritize and focus. So, fewer overall goals, and hopefully a better ability to focus on them. 

Let's start with the crafting goals: 
1. On the quilting side, I am working again to finish up some UFOs, especially as my list of unfinished projects has gotten longer, so I will again participate in the APQ UFO Challenge and also Judy Laquidara's UFO Challenge. I only have one list, so I will have two numbers to choose from each month :) I'd like to get more than 6 of the 12 completed. 
2017 Quilting UFOs
2. Stitch What I've Bought - I have so many charts, magazines, and a few kits, and I really want to focus this year on stitching things I've already got! To aid me in this, I spent some time a few weeks ago and pulled out all my patterns, sorted them by season/occasion, and selected the ones I want to work on next year. Then, I dug through my relatively small stash of linens and found which would work with patterns I'd chosen, and then dug through my specialty threads to see what I'd need to finish these pieces. I wound up with a healthy list that I took with me to House of Stitches after a trip to South Bend, Indiana to see the Downton Abbey costumes. House of Stitches is a great store with a fabulous selection of linens, threads, and patterns (and I hear from my mom that they do great mail-order business). I tried not to even look at the patterns so that I could stick to my plan for 2017 and I did well! Here are the charts, threads, and linens for my 2017 stitching projects. I might not get through all of them, and I might sneak a few others in between, but I feel good that I am all set to work on all of these projects. 
Stitching project priorities for this year!

New Linens
New threads

That's it for the crafting goals - I still fully expect to quilt several quilts on my HQ, and I plan to do some crocheting, but I will fit them in when I am in the mood! 







On the personal front, I want to continue with some things that started last year, but with a little extra focus. 
1) Paint - This falls into the home improvement category. Several items in our home need paint...the exterior, our family room, our remodeled bathroom, and my son's room, and all of these spaces have needed paint for at least 6 months. 
2) Get up and Get Out - This continues my goal from last year to swim more. I want to do more exercise from home - walking and biking primarily. I want to get moving more often, even when the weather isn't great. 

So, that's it - short and sweetly focused goals - I will let you know through my monthly accomplishment posts how it's going! 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 Year in Review

I always enjoy taking a few minutes to think back on the past year to see how I did on my goals - I have set a couple "different" goals over the years, but some of those have had a profound difference in daily life. The biggest change has been the result of a goal set in 2013 to use the cookbooks we have. Four years later, I am still meal planning and pulling out new recipes to try, and we have all expanded our palates. None of my 2016 goals were that impactful, but here's a rundown of how I did on my 2016 crafting and personal goals: 

Crafting goals: 
1. First, a finish - this is going to be my mantra for this year. I would like to start each month by finishing something. It can be cross-stitch, crochet, or quilting. I started off well on this one, and used an instagram hashtag to record my progress, which shows 4 pictures - Jan-Mar, and May. I did end off the year finishing up several items, so feel good about that, but it was tough to keep the finish to the first thing I did. 


2. APQ Resolution - I have made a list for the American Patchwork & Quilting UFO Challenge. I did this with my bee several years ago and really made some good progress. This time, I am mixing up UFOs with kits and patterns that I just really want to make, so some months I will get to start something new.  I did okay on this one by finishing 6 projects completely and finishing 2 tops. I will participate in the APQ & also Judy Laquidara's UFO challenges this year, and I've transferred the ones I didn't finish from last year to this year's list. 


3. Keep quilting - quilt at least another 20 tops on my HQ Avante - let's see if I can get back into the swing of things to get more tops done! Nope, didn't get back into the swing of it. I quilted 10 tops this year. 


4. Keep stitching - I'd like to make more ornaments this year and have them ready to go on my tree or be gifted next Christmas. Jackpot! I kept up with the stitch-along group that I signed up with and stitched 12 ornaments this year, plus finished up the year stitching 3 more. I have about half of them in full finished state and three of them hung on our tree this year. I did pick up a tote at The Container Store to keep all my stitched ornaments in, so I have motivation to keep stitching ornaments! I will honestly have a hard time giving any of them away, but I did tell the kids they could pick one each and when they grow up, they will get to keep that one for their tree. 


5. Finish some crochet projects - I'd like to get at least 3-5 crochet projects done this year to have something to show for my new skills. Done - I finished 4 projects this year - the Pokemon hat, my Mantella cape (yikes, just realized I haven't taken a picture of this one), a headband, a cowl, and a hat

Personal goals: 
1. Get moving on house work - our house needs a lot of work these days...new roof, paint, updated kitchen and bathroom, etc. and I am bad at taking the time to make the calls to get quotes and then get the work done. I resolve to be better at this so that we can get some improvements made. Done - I worked through a bathroom remodel, and got the contract signed for our roof replacement, which will happen next spring when the weather warms up. Still lots to go on this one...


2. Start swimming again - I was on the swim team as a kid and loved my time in the pool and used it as a good way to keep fit in college. I haven't swum for many years now, but a new Y opened near work and they have a lap pool. I have a new suit and goggles on the way, so I'd like to use them! Done! I swam a lot this year - sometimes a couple times a week and sometimes only every few weeks, but I love getting into the pool (especially when it isn't crowded!). I did find myself looking for some variety at the end of the year and went back to the regular stuff at the gym and a yoga class. 


So, that's the recap. All in all, I think it was a good year. Now, for some photographic evidence! 

2016 Stitching - 15 oraments, 6 other projects. 7 of them are fully finished now.


2016 Quilting/Sewing - 9 fully finished quilts, 7 quilt tops, 1 infinity scarf, 16 bags from small to large, 1 apron, 1 pillow, 1 tool caddy, and 1 new ironing station - what a great year!


I hope you found 2016 to be a fulfilling year and made good progress on your own resolutions. I'll be back over the weekend to share with you my goals and plans for 2017! 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

December 2016 Accomplishments

I always like to do a year in review post, but before I do that, I want to cover the projects I worked on in December. I got the bug early in the month to make some Christmas gifts and had to get going quickly. It was good motivation for me to spend some time sewing. I made lots of bags (my favorite thing to make!): 
- A tote bag for Jack's teacher 
- A "Whatcha Got" bag for my admin assistant at work - she's fantastic and she loves to bicycle, so the fabric was perfect. 
- A couple more "Whatcha Got" bags for my boss and a friend, both of whom love purple. 
And then, I made an apron - also another Christmas gift, that hasn't yet been gifted (but will be soon!). 
After I was done with all the gift-making, I thought I'd like to end the year with a couple of finished projects. The reindeer that I started at retreat last year was partially quilted, so was an easy target! I got the quilting finished in the first sitting, then got back a few days later and got the binding made and attached. I worked feverishly to hand sew on the back by New Year's Eve - I lost steam before the ball dropped, but finished it up New Year's Day afternoon, so I am counting it as a 2016 finish! 

In Crocheting, I started a new hat in late November called Everyday People. I searched for a pattern that would work with yarn I already had and got it finished up just a few days ago. I wore it today for a walk and it is perfect! 
I also finished a few stitching items in December. First is White Christmas from the Just Cross Stitch 2015 magazine, finishing my 12th ornament for the year and completing the challenge from the JCS Stitch Along Facebook group. I love how this one turned out, but I cut it really close on my fabric (that's what you get for using scraps!) and also the thread - you can see in the picture how little is left! 
With half a month left after I finished this one, I decided to work on an old kit - the Foxwood Crossing sleds that I've had in my stash for years! I stitched the three snow friends and love them! They will get added to my ornament stash. I also did some finishing on a couple of the JCS ornaments in the last few days, and have a few more still to do. I am looking forward to having even more done before it is time to decorate the tree next year! 
In addition to all that stuff, our family had a great Christmas, with new bikes for the kids, lots of legos, some great meals with friends and family, and plenty of time off for sleeping in. I hope you all had a good December and a joyous holiday season. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year End Stash Report 2016

I don't think I've done a stash report since October, but there wasn't much to report in November, and actually in most of December - I did use a little fabric as we got closer to Christmas as I decided to make a few gifts. 
 
First up, the usage in November and December: 
- Used a little for borders on my kaleidoscope top
- Made a few blocks for a friendship quilt
- Made a tote back, three Watcha Got bags, and an apron for Christmas gifts (pics to come when I post my accomplishments for December)
- Gifted a fat quarter bundle

And then, the additions...about half of which were gifts and half of which were impulse purchases :) 
- Cardinal kit - a belated birthday gift from my brother - love that this will be something I can put up after all the Christmas decorations come down when the house looks really bare. 
- Christmas quilt kit - a gift from a fellow quilter and co-worker, and a total surprise. I think the colors from this quilt will look great in my house! 
- Aussie fabric from Capitol Quilts in Maryland, courtesy of my mom - a fat quarter from her, and a kit to make a tote that I asked her to pick up for me
- Charm pack and 1/2 yard of Eclectic Elements to make pillows for my couch - picked up at The Back Door when I went with my mom for her birthday shopping
- A couple wool kits also from The Back Door - one of my goals this year will be to work on some of the wool kits I've bought from them! 

Whew, that was a lot added, so my totals for November and December are: 
Fabric added last two months - 11 1/8 yards
Fabric used last two months - 5 3/8 yards

And now the totals for the year - I am overall very happy with the year end stash report, especially given how little time I spent in the quilt studio this year and how much I used scraps or finished up things that I already started (and counted). 

Fabric added in 2016 - 28 yards
Fabric used in 2016 - 86 5/8 yards

Net fabric used - 58 5/8 yards

This was my 7th year to record my stash usage, and I bought more than 2015, but less than 2014, 2012, 2011, and 2010.  I used more than 2013 and 2014, but less than the other years. This ranks #4 of 7 years for net usage.I plan to continue in 2017. 

Stash reporting has been a good way for me to focus on using what I have and shopping stash first, and also has me think twice before I buy fabric. It doesn't mean that I buy none, but I am (usually) more intentional now.  

Whether you track your stash usage or not, I hope you had a great 2016! I'll be back over the next week  or so with my year in review and goals for 2017. 


Sunday, December 18, 2016

November 2016 Recipes

November found us revisiting a lot of good recipes we'd made once or twice before and by the middle of the month, I was out of ideas for new things to try, so one Sunday morning, I handed the folder of recipes that we haven't tried yet to my husband and he picked out a few! 

First up was Spice Roasted Salmon, a recipe from Cooking Light, March 2014 (not all that long ago). This recipe included a spice I've heard about but never used before - Garam Masala.  It took me three stores before I found it, but it was worth it. We really liked that it gave a different flavor to the salmon. 
The second recipe he chose wasn't a surprise to me at all - Beef & Beer Stew.  All three of those words are right up his alley, and to his credit, he does most of the cooking, so I was happy to pick up the ingredients for him to put together. In the end, we thought the flavor of this stew was good, but it seemed to be a lot more complicated than the normal stew we make (my mom's recipe) and not any better. The one part we really did like was the mashed potatoes, so I think we'll keep the recipe for that! 
Next up was a recipe my daughter got from my mom - Pumpkin smoothies from the Pioneer Woman. I've told you before that she really enjoys making sweets, and this was no exception. She and my husband really liked these, and Mike even had them for breakfast one morning!  I just couldn't get past having a whole can of pumpkin in a smoothie...
The last recipe for this month was inspired by cooler temps. I wanted soup and we had about 3/4 of a pound of ground beef left over from another night. I found Chopped Beef Potpourri in the Fix-It and Enjoy It Cookbook, one that has given us so many good recipes. This was no exception - it was a nice beefy vegetable soup with ground beef in it. We've since had it again and I liked it just as much the second time around! I think this one will become a cold weather staple for us. 

In addition to all these great meals, we also enjoyed two Thanksgiving dinners, one hosted by us for my husband's family. We had 16 people here and had lots of wonderful food, great pies (pumpkin made by Jenna!) and a raucous game of spoons after it all. It was a great month and we are now gearing up for more of the same as we approach Christmas!  Hope you all had some great new dishes in November! 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

November 2016 Accomplishments

Wow, November was a great month! I found myself spending a little more time in the sewing room and also doing some stitching and starting a new crochet project. I was off work most of the week of Thanksgiving, so I made sure that I made a little time each day for at least two crafting projects - I think I stitched every day, crocheted most days, and quilted 4 of 6 days. 

Let's start in the sewing room - the first thing I worked on was making some QOV (Quilt of Valor) blocks for Dar's Patchwork Garden. I need to get them in the mail to her soon - they were quick and easy to make, and I am glad to know that my scraps will wind up in QOVs. 
Next up was working on my project for November for the APQ UFO Resolution Challenge. I have had spotty performance on this challenge over the course of the year, but I did get my top finished - I had great plans to get it on the frame and quilted, but had to put a couple other quilts in the queue in front of it. 
The rest of the month was focused on quilting - I did two quilts for others. The first one is a comfort quilt for a colleague at work who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Another quilter friend at work pieced the top and cut the back and I did the quilting. I think it turned out pretty cute and the recipient loved it - we gave it to her the morning she was going to see the doctor and find out the results of her tests and the course of action. 
The final quilting project of the month is a top my mom made for her best friend for Christmas. I got it onto the frame and quilted in a couple days so she'd have plenty of time to finish it. When I pulled threads to audition for this one, I really thought I'd just use white, but it was a little too stark and an ivory looked much better. I quilted this one with my holly leaves and poinsettia pantograph. 
Quilting shows better on the back
Next up are my two stitching finishes, both snowmen this month! 

The first is Feeling Frosty by Miles to Go, a kit that I bought last year. My mom and I bought the same kit and she finished hers a few months ago into a cube. It turned out pretty cute, and I am planning to finish mine in the same way. I love this snowman because he isn't Christmas colors, so will be great to stay out all year! 

Next is my ornament from the Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments magazine - November's choice is the cute snowman and his snowflakes by Val's Stuff. I need to pick up some felt so that I can finish this one, but I think he's pretty adorable too! 
I don't have a picture of my crochet project, but I started a new hat. My mom knitted me a hat several years ago and I love it, but it has stretched out. I found out that I could use the search feature on Ravelry to narrow in on the amount of yarn + type of pattern I wanted to crochet, and that's how I found Everyday People. I am making it with some yarn I bought on sale a few years ago before I really knew what I was doing. I have been working on it a little every few nights, and am about halfway done, so I hope to have a picture of it in my December wrap-up. 

I also took some time the week of Thanksgiving to pull out all my stitching kits and patterns and go through them to really prioritize what I want to work on next year. I've enjoyed the ornament stitching this year, but I am ready to get back to some other projects and seasons. I have 12 projects pulled for next year and a list ready to take to the cross-stitch store of all the threads and linens I need to finish them. I am pretty excited about the variety of projects I have pulled to work on, and especially excited that some of them are patterns I've had for many years.