Sunday, October 5, 2014

September Cooking

During the  month of September,I pulled out several recipes that looked good and I thought we made quite a few of them, but when I went to pull the "used" file yesterday, I found only two new ones!  We did revisit some that we've made in the last year and made them again, so it wasn't a totally boring month.  My tomatoes finally started ripening, so I pulled out the recipe I'd specifically held for that season and it made a delicious lunch salad.  I was surprised that the kids even ate this one since it was full of spinach.  I guess the yummy dressing was enough to make it palatable. They also discovered that they both like artichoke hearts (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree on this - my mom and I both love them!). Artichoke and Pasta Salad is another winner from Cooking Light, and I will definitely make it again on a warm summer day. 

The second recipe is Chicken, Spinach, and Noodle Casserole from Real Simple. The dish turned out well and I swear we got a picture, but it is missing. My only gripe with this dish was the "One dish dinner" headline.  While it baked in one dish, there were about four others involved in the preparation, so there was a lot of dishwashing to do in the end! We had our neighbor's son staying with us for the weekend and he gobbled it down. Our own kids balked a little and wound up with buttered noodles instead of the casserole, but that's fine, because it was easy to cook a few more noodles and leave them on the side. 

We will be back at it in October, and I have a goal to dig through the dessert recipe file a little more - that one hasn't had nearly enough attention this year! 

Stash Report - Weeks 39-40, 2014

I used a little bit of fabric over the last two weeks in preparation for my retreat in a couple weeks.  I am cutting out Urban Pods, a quilt top made with the Quick Curve Ruler. I made a couple test blocks before I cut out the whole top and they worked out pretty well, so I am well underway in cutting out the whole top. 
I also gave some fabric to my mom to make pet beds - it was a very old holiday print. That always helps the stash report :) 

I had one add last week - we were in Houston and visited a couple quilt shops and I picked up a FQ of a white on white - always a good stash builder.  I could have bought a lot more if I had checked luggage! 

Here's the official report: 
Fabric added last two weeks: 1/4 yard
Fabric used last two week: 4 3/8 yards

Fabric added year to date: 39 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 53 3/8 yards

Net fabric used: 13 3/4 yards

Hope you had a great week with your stash! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September 2014 Accomplishments & Four Goals

I didn't spend too many days in my sewing area this month, but I do feel like I got a lot done!  I also got some new things started. I spent 12 1/2 hours in the sewing studio, not counting time for stitching or my other new craft. Here's what I did in that time: 

- Made a baby blanket
- Made two laminate bags
- Sewed all the buttons onto finished cross-stitch projects
- Finished another cross-stitch - this time into a cube
- Made the first of three rows I got during the Row by Row Experience. 
- Helped my daughter Jenna start sewing!  She told me that she wanted to make a doll quilt, went through my scraps to find strips, pressed them, and started sewing them into pairs, then quads. We didn't get further than that due to a few other things keeping our calendar busy at the end of the month, but I have no doubt she is ready to get back to it. 
- Finished quilting Crossroads/Plan B quilt top. I need to get it trimmed and get the binding on so that I can show it off at Shipshewana. 
- Started cutting out and made two test blocks for Urban Pods quilt using the Quick Curve Ruler
- Started my Craftsy class on crochet and made a chain and a swatch. I had a great time learning this new craft and I am looking forward to finishing the class so that I can make one or two of the projects. 
 Oh, and I almost forgot - I also won this great bundle of fabric from a Sweetwater giveaway!  What a nice surprise to see my name and then receive a Fat Eighth bundle of Elementary in the mail. 

My four goals for September seemed pretty achievable at the start of the month (don't they always!), and I got to work on them pretty well. 
1. Quilt my UFO that is hanging on the frame -- finished
2. Cut out a quilt with my Quick Curve Ruler -- started but not finished
3. Finish baby blanket -- done and gifted and I even got to cuddle the baby 
4. Sew buttons and findings on all my "almost finished" cross stitch projects. -- finished

In October, I am headed to a retreat in Shipshewana, Indiana. This will be my fourth year at this retreat and I am really looking forward to it.  I have one quilt cut out and one partially cut out (see #2 above), and I hope to get one more ready before I leave, but if not, that's okay.  I have plenty I can take and cut out there.  Here are my October goals: 
1. Quilt one of the tops that I have from friends
2. Get myself in order for retreat and have a great time there
3. Finish a quilt top
4. Make a new purse/bag

Hope you have great plans for your month!  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stash Report - Weeks 35-38 2014

It has been quite a few weeks since I last posted a stash report and I haven't been doing too much, but I have been busy - especially at work and with the kids. In the midst, I have been sneaking in a little quilting time here and there. 
It started with a birthday, and with a birthday comes fat quarters from my bee. I got a nice assortment of black & whites, so I should be able to finish my easy street leftovers quilt . I also got some nice quilty/crafty gifts for my birthday - including having several books spiral bound, a new travel iron, and a cross-stitch kit. 
After all the birthday celebrations, I got going on a few things that used some fabric -- I finished a cross-stitch into a flat fold display, I finished a baby blanket, made a couple laminate bags, started cutting out a new quilt and made a couple test blocks, and started working on one of my row by row shop hop kits.  It didn't result in that much fabric used, but I feel like I've been getting some good things done. 

I did add another yard of fabric which was left over from a quilt back my mom made and matches a FQ pack that I have, so it will give me enough background fabric to make a pattern I bought earlier this year. 

The result of all those changes over the last four weeks is: 

Fabric added last 4 weeks: 2 3/4 yards
Fabric used last 4 weeks: 2 1/2 yards

Fabric added year to date: 39 3/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 49 yards

Net fabric used: 9 5/8 yards

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A new kind of finish

Several months ago, a friend of my mom's told me that her secret to all her lovely finishing of cross-stitch was a website called The Twisted Stitcher. I went to Michael's earlier this year with a 50% off your whole purchase coupon and got myself set up to make the flat fold and the cube.  As I looked at the details of each, I decided to start with a flat fold and then work my way up to the box.  I picked out one of the many projects I have finished stitching that is waiting for final finishing and got started. I am not going to show you all the steps in the process, because you can easily get them over on the site linked above, but here's a few steps in my process. 

Stitching and mat board cut to size

Gluing fabric to mat board

Weighing it all down for a couple nights to make sure it sticks together well.
The finished product! 

From the front, on top of the same fabric that is used in the flat fold
The project took me about an hour to complete and I really enjoyed the process. I made one mistake and have the fabric going the wrong direction on the back of the whole piece, which is a bummer, but most people probably won't look at that part anyway!  It does need some cording or a ribbon to finish it off around the edges, so I will keep and eye out for something that will match it well. 

Now that I've made one, I am looking forward to the next! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

August Cooking Challenge

We took the month of July off from our cooking challenge - not intentionally, but with vacations and summer schedules it just didn't happen. We were back at it in August and I got back into the swing of menu planning.  We made several entrees, a side dish, a dip, and a dessert.  It was an okay month - some good recipes, some just okay, but it felt good to be trying some new things again. 

The first recipe of the month was Sauteed Chicken with Capers - now, you either like capers or you don't in my experience - and I love them! This was an easy and very tasty dinner. This was another in a long line of winners from the old Everyday Food magazine. 

Next up was an old recipe from Cooking Light magazine, and it was pretty tasty too.  Smoky Cowboy Quesadillas were a nice twist on the usual with ham, salsa, and fresh corn. Mike made these with a little less salsa for the kids and they were a big hit, especially with Jack. 

Back to Everyday Food for the next one, Cilantro Buttermilk Skirt Steak. Delicious dinner, executed expertly. This will go into our rotation and next time I see a skirt steak on sale, I will know what to do with it! 

We switched back to chicken for the next recipe, but stuck with the same magazine - and had Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry. It was okay - not bad, but not terribly flavorful.  We didn't have oyster sauce, which might be the secret ingredient, so I think I will pick some up and we'll try it again to see if that does the trick.  

Next up was a recipe from Rachael Ray's magazine and I forgot to take a picture of the Corn Bacon muffins.  I cooked the bacon ahead, but we warmed it up and followed the recipe as written and it just didn't do much for us.  This is one we won't be making again - there are lots of other rolls or muffins that I would use before I went back to this one. 

I hosted my quilt bee at the end of the month, and I usually try to find something yummy to make them.  This time was no exception. I made a Dill, Feta, and Garlic Cream Cheese Spread that was delicious and also made Citrus Doodles, which were a tangy, delicious cookie. I don't usually like cookies with a glaze, but this glaze, which has lemon and orange zest in it, was delicious! 

We wrapped up the month by making Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas. They were a great finger food and the bowl disappeared into my daughter's room before I could get a picture.  We will definitely make these again when we are having friends over or need a small dish to bring along to a party. 

I also had to share another of the yummiest dishes we had this month - it was a peanut butter ice cream pie from our favorite custard stand that Mike got to celebrate my birthday.  Mmmmmm! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

August Accomplishments and Four Goals

August was a great month, but I didn't really spend a whole lot of time sewing.  It seems these days that most of my sewing is done on weekends or Mondays (my normal day off), but I went to China for work in August, so that chewed up two weekends - one for travel and one for jet lag.  I did stick to my list for the most part and here's the progress I made on my four goals: 

1. Frame/Finish another cross-stitch - done - here is a quick picture, but I will do another post with a full review. 

2. Get to 6 finished snowmen for the snowman quilt - I got to 5 finished snowmen with some fusing, button hole stitching, and hand sewing. 

3. Cut out a project to work on at work day/retreat - done - I cut out a hunter's star pattern that I've wanted to make for a while
4. Quilt a UFO - nope, didn't get this one done, but I did get the back made for the next quilt on my list. 

Here's the full (short) list of accomplishments for August: 
- Made another snowman to bring the group to 5 (picture above)
- Cut out and made a test block for hunter's star quilt
- Quilted blue and yellow top for my mom
- Made quilt back for the next UFO to be quilted
- Made flat fold for cross-stitch (picture above)

I know that September is going to be a pretty busy month for us too - and it seems like we have something almost each weekend, so I might need to get a little better about sewing a little bit during the week.  My goals for September are: 
1. Quilt my UFO that is hanging on the frame
2. Cut out a quilt with my Quick Curve Ruler
3. Finish baby blanket
4. Sew buttons and findings on all my "almost finished" cross stitch projects. 

Hope you had a good August and are enjoying September so far - it is beautiful here today with cooler, dry weather and we are enjoying having the windows open!