2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Saturday, May 21, 2016

April 2016 Quilting and Stitching Accomplishments

I knew for most of the month of April that it would likely be my last month to work part time for a while, so I was bound and determined to get a few things moved along or finished before I headed back to work and into the summer, when I know I don't usually do as much quilting given busier schedules and more time outside. 

I started the month with a great day - the kids were on spring break one more day and came to my bee workday with me. Jenna brought along her stitching and some books and kept herself busy all day. Jack brought along some legos and books, but by late morning, he was looking for something else to do. I'd put in my bag of scraps from the Crayon quilt and thought I'd just spend a little time playing to see what I could come up with. It turned out this was right up Jack's alley and he jumped right in. While I sewed triangles together, he worked on a layout. Then, he got into the game and did some sewing, decided on how to put together the borders, and learned how to press a seam open. He did a great job with all of it and we wound up with a very cute mini-quilt, which we decided will be his teacher's end-of-year thank you gift. 

I also wanted to finish up one of my UFOs this month, and as luck would have it, the one I loaded on my frame in late March was the one that was selected to work on in April! I finished the quilting, got the binding attached, and then worked on sewing it down during tv watching and bee meetings during the month. I am really glad to have this one finished and ready to put out this Christmas season. I think I bought the kit at the 2009 quilt show, and I finished the top ages ago, so it was high time I got it finished! 

Next up was the Trip around the World top that my bee made for Diana's Golden Needle (you can find her on facebook). The top was finished a while ago, so I finally got it on the frame, using some white muslin for the backing. I got it quilted and trimmed, made the binding, and then passed it off to another bee-mate for doing the binding. Once it is back, it will be on its way to North Carolina to be given to a child who has aged out of the foster care system. 

Finally, I got my Quilting in Layers top put together. I already told you a little about this one in my stash report, but I really had a good time making this and I think there will be another one in my future. I really liked the process of putting it together and I'd like to see how it turns out if I used the same technique across the whole quilt or if I only used two colors. 

Last up are my stitching finishes for April - I spend the majority of the month working on the plastic canvas reindeer which is part 1 of a four-part kit. I won't be moving on to parts 2-4 for a while because I really don't like working on plastic canvas, but I do like how cute this guy turned out! 

After the reindeer was finished, I had just enough time to get in the ornament for the month from Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments - this one is called Very Merry Christmas by Medina Originals. It was a quick stitch and I like how it turned out! I used leftover fabric that I had on hand and most of the called for colors. 

So, that's the recap for the month - I spent 13 3/4 hours quilting during the month, not including binding or stitching time. I am pretty pleased with all that I got done! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

April 2016 Cooking

Wow, I am way behind on my monthly recaps - I had great plans to get one blog post out each week and then I fell behind! If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, right? 

We had a great month of new recipes in April as we inherited my neighbor's crock pot meals from her freezer when she moved and as I dug deeper into a few of my cookbooks. The results of both were very yummy! 

We actually did have one new recipe in March that I forgot about - it is one of those Facebook recipes that seem to be all over my feed these days - this one looked like a good fit for our family, so we made it and we really enjoyed it. It is called Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Next up are the couple crock pot meals - several months ago, my neighbor made the 40 meals in an afternoon where you prep, bag, and freeze the ingredients for a ton of meals. She purchased her recipes from this website. The first one we made was Cheeseburger Soup and it cooked up like more of a stew than a soup. You pour a cup of rice in late in the recipe to thicken it up and it went a little too far. I think I'd sub pasta for the rice if we make this one again. The taste was okay but nothing to write home about, and it really didn't look attractive on the plate either! 
Next up was Slow cooker Chicken Cacciatore. This smelled really good when we walked in the house and the flavor was good. The balance of onions to chicken was a little off - too many onions for our preference - and the flavor was okay, but a little on the bland side. I don't think we will go out of our way to make this one again. 
 The first cookbook I took another pass at is my trust Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. This one is my go-to when I need to find a classic meal. We tried three recipes, but I only got pictures of two. The first (no picture) recipe is Crispy Oven-Fried Fish. Honestly, I didn't even remember we made this until I pulled my weekly menu plans to write this post! It must have been okay but not so good that it is seared in my mind! 

Next up was Marinated Pork Chops. I think we cooked these a little long because they turned out kind of tough and dry. The marinade was okay, but not good enough that we will be clamoring to make them again. 
The third meal from this cookbook is a keeper - Baked Cavatelli, You can't go wrong in our house with a baked pasta and cheese dish, and this one didn't disappoint! 
The next cookbook deep dive was into my Mary Englebreit cookbook and we tried Hot Chicken Salad, which was great! The kids were lukewarm on it, but Mike and I really enjoyed it. Again with the cheese, and this one had potato chips on top too! 
Next up was Steak Fajitas from Mr. Food. These were tasty, but I'd buy more meat next time! We wound up with enough for only one fajita each, which you know isn't enough!  
Last up are a couple recipes from the Fix it and Enjoy it Cookbook - Asian Beef and Noodles, a simple dish made with ground beef and ramen noodles. This was a quick weeknight meal and we all liked it. 
 And finally, Key Lime Pie from the same cookbook. Miss Jenna requested this for her birthday celebration, and it was a great choice! We are all fans of key lime pie in our house and this one didn't disappoint!  

 Hope you enjoyed the recap and got some inspiration for your meals this week! Let me know if you have any must-try recipes to share with me! 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stash Report - April 2016

April was a steady but quiet month for me. I spent a the first part of it helping my neighbor and great friend pack up her house and get ready for a move to Orlando, and we had to race to finish watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix in the last few days before she left, so I spent way more time stitching than sewing or quilting this month, however, I did have a little stash usage. 
Wonky Trees Getting Quilted
I finished quilting my APQ Challenge top for April and made the binding (the top and back were already counted), and then on a whim I signed up for a guild workshop with Terry Kramzar. It was a great workshop on Quilting in Layers and I really enjoyed it. I started with three rolls of batiks and a handful of other fabrics and wound up using 15 fat eighths of the batiks to put my top together. 
Quilting in Layers Top
That's all for this month - a little time piecing, a little time quilting, and a new skill learned. 

Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 2 1/4 yards

Fabric added year to date: 3 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 24 1/4 yards

Net fabric used: 20 5/8 yards

Hope you had a great April with your stash! 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

March 2016 Accomplishments

March was a really busy month for me - I was in Indiana (home), Mexico City, Danville, IL, Washington, DC, and North Potomac, MD.  Lots going on meant not too much sewing or stitching time at home, but luckily I worked on some stitching while traveling and also had a retreat as one of my trips so had some good dedicated sewing time. 

I totalled 34 1/2 hours of quilting in March, 27 1/2 of which was at my retreat.  Here are the quilting projects I got done during this month: 
- Iron bag
- Tool caddy
- 6 Sweetpea pods
- Crayons top
- Hourglass top (minus borders)
- Joy pillow
- Made back, batting for Wonky Trees quilt top

On the stitching front, I finished my ornament for March, Plenty, from the Just Cross Stitch Ornaments catalog. I really like this one! 
My work trip to Mexico went very well and our family vacation to DC and Maryland was great too - we walked all over the district to see museums, monuments, the zoo, and the cemetary. We had great meals and reconnected with old friends, and then spent a couple days with my brother and his family and the kids loved their cousin time. All in all, March was a great month! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Some ironing updates

It is funny how you don't always plan for things to happen in threes, but sometimes they do (just ask my mom, she's pretty suspicious about that!). In March, my "three" was all about irons or ironing. 

At the start of the month, two of us in our bee made bags to carry our irons. This is a pattern that's been passed around our bee quite a bit and I think about half of us have made this bag now!  I was so excited to pull out some of my Mary Engelbreit fabric to use for this project! I am a huge hoarder of this fabric because I love her art so much, so I am glad to have some which I can use and see every time I take my iron with me. I thought the travel fabric was appropriate since I will most often use this bag for sewing days or retreats. 
New iron travel bag and new iron
A few weeks later, my trusty Rowenta iron became completely incontinent on me. She's had a few dribbles every now and then (don't we all after a few years?!), but just completely lost it...all over my ironing board and carpet. Boy, she's been a great iron - with the perfect weight, lots of tiny steam holes, fantastic steam and a nice big soleplate. But, she was expensive (my husband bought her for my birthday and he said he remembers me being a little mad that he spent that much money) and I wasn't sure I wanted to invest that much in an iron again...especially given the declining reviews they seem to get from people I know and from the people who review them in quilting forums and places like Amazon. After a morning of going back and forth and reading tons of reviews, I purchased a Sunbeam Steam Master. It arrived later that day (I love Prime one-day delivery!) and I got it set up. So far, so good. It is a nice heavy weight and it is doing well with water/steam so far. 

The third part of my iron story is that I built an ironing station. After my retreat, I decided that I really wanted one to give me a bigger ironing surface and to give me some storage underneath the iron, which is hard to do with an ironing board. 
The pieces all ready to go before getting batting and fabric covering, faithfully guarded by the dog.
I researched how to do it, found some good step-by-step instructions online, and headed out to Target to pick up the shelving unit. My neighbor had a great supply of plywood and she helped do the cutting and drilling needed to get it put together. [Note: I decided not to put mine on wheels, because I liked the shelving unit size better at Target and it didn't come with wheels - might add them later if I decide I need to move it more often.] [Second note - we two girls did this in a couple hours with no help from the guys except to find a staple gun...if I'd waited for my guy to do it....well, let's just say it wouldn't be done yet.]
Ta-da! Done! 
I found some heavy canvas in my stash from Lois and it was a perfect fit! I got it all stapled up and promptly filled it up with my scrap bins, longarm supplies, and some other sundries. Suddenly I have more floor space in my sewing area! 
All loaded up! Look at the clean floor all around it! (And yes, the whole bottom shelf is buckets of scraps!)

Monday, April 4, 2016

TOT Retreat Report 2016

For the past several years, our bee has had a spring retreat to the Threads of Time Quilt Shop and Retreat center in east-central Illinois.  We always have a good time, eat lots of great food, and make lots of beautiful projects. This year, I didn't prep at all for retreat, so I was scrambling in the week before we went to decide what to work on. I still wound up taking too much, which is actually a good thing in my book, cause you never want to run out of projects to work on while at retreat! 

I worked on projects on and off this year, alternating between a few, so I will show you them in order of finish. 

My first finish is a tool caddy. It goes over a 5x7 plastic picture frame and is really handy to keep a lot of items at your fingertips. It didn't go all the way to the bottom of the frame when made as instructed, so I shifted it a bit and wound up with a few small raw edges on the bottom. It also has a tendency to tip over if filled with too many things! I loved using the thread and pins fabric that I bought years ago to make this. 

Next up was one of my kits - this one was gifted to me by one of my mom's quilting friends, and I never quite got around to making it as my friends were having babies. The crayon tops and bottoms are made from a variegated fabric, and the wrappers are some awesome crazy brights. This will be a perfect baby or small kid quilt, and I love how it turned out! This one will be added to my UFO list until it's needed :) 

The next top is made from the very first jelly roll I ever bought. It is called Kashmir IV and it is very light. While the top is a little richer in person, it is a very muted quilt top and I really like how it turned out. The pattern for this one is called Hourglass and it is from a Kim Brackett book. I've had it on my "want to make" list for a while. Now I will dig through my stash to see if I can come up with a few border that will work. This one is lap sized, although by the time I add border, it might be closer to a twin. 
On the last morning of our retreat, I pulled out my APQ Challenge UFO for the month of March - this is one that's been on my UFO list since I created it! I finished the stitching in 2005! I decided to make it into a pillow with binding, so that if I change my mind and want to hang it up, it will also work as a wall hanging. Once I finished it and put it into a travel pillow, I decided I love it that way!  It spent a few weeks on my couch so I could enjoy it for a while before it gets put away until the holidays next year. 
The final project of retreat was making up some sweetpea pods. I have now finished the pods for all of the Bendy bags I made last holiday season. I still have a bunch of zippers left, so there will be more of these in my future. 
 The one thing I didn't get any pictures of this retreat was our group. We have had a few different people each year and we always have a good time. This group was no different. I really enjoyed the days with my mom, Pam, Stephanie, Hannah, Muffet, Karen, Betty, and Paula and I am already looking forward to next year! 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

March 2016 Stash Report

March was a really busy month for me - I went to Mexico for a work trip, then came home for a few days and went to Illinois for our bee quilting retreat, then came home for a week and went to Washington, DC with my family for our spring break vacation! It sure seems like the month flew by! It's a good thing that one of those trips was my retreat, because that contributed well to my stash report this month. I owe you a full update on the retreat, which I promise to write soon, and I will share pictures of all my projects when I write up that report. Let's just say for now that it was a very successful retreat with lots of fabric used! I also made a quilt back between trips, so that adds to my usage as well. 

I did my first shopping of the year while on retreat, and promptly used most of the fabric in one of the projects I was working on, then did a little more shopping while on our vacation. I visited Capital Quilts, a nice shop near my brother's family. I picked up two new bag patterns (big surprise!), the hardware kit for one of the bags, fabric to make that bag, and a charm pack of some new fabric that I just loved. 
Here's the result of all that activity on the stash report: 

Fabric added this month: 3 5/8 yards
Fabric used this month: 13 5/8 yards

Fabric added year to date: 3 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 22 yards

Net fabric used: 18 3/8 yards

Not a bad stash report for the first quarter - I will be pleased with my end numbers if my usage continues to be the same throughout the year ending around 75 yards used. We shall see :)