2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Summer 2017 Recipes

As I've mentioned before, we have so many good recipes to choose from now, that we only have a couple new ones each month. We are still enjoying trying new things and also enjoy the variety of options from week to week. When we started this challenge a few years ago, we were in the habit of rotating about 7 or 8 meals and our kids were smack in the middle of chicken nugget, hot dog, and fish stick meals. We've come a long way and I think they will be much better eaters their whole lives for it. 

Here are the recipes we tried this summer: 

We'll start with a good meal for hot days - chicken salad tacos from Mr. Food. This was an easy meal to make on a busy night and it was pretty tasty. It would be great with a nice salad. I don't find the recipe on the Mr. Food website, but it was a pretty straight-forward chicken salad with taco seasoning put into tacos. Quick and tasty! 

Back in June, we purchased a new grill, so I set to find several recipes that would give Mike a chance to get used to it. The first was Carne Asada from the Fix-It and Enjoy It Cookbook. It was delicious. I could have this every week! 
 Next up is a meal that I made! It came from my friend Jill, who has joined one of the home cooking sites this year. It is a ricotta tart with a blistered tomato/onion salad. It was delicious! The kids didn't care for the tart so much, but Mike and I enjoyed them and I've made the salad for lunch about 5 times since I made it with dinner! 
 The next recipe was also a test of the new grill - this time for chicken. It is a marinated Honey Chicken from our Four Ingredient Cookbook. It was very good and the way the marinade sears on the chicken is really yummy. 

The next recipe is also a good weeknight meal. We were a little apprehensive to try Salmon Quesadillas, but they were pretty good in the end. It is a mix of salmon, spices, and cheese made like a normal quesadilla. In the end, we all liked it more than we thought we would! This one was also from a cookbook, the 2000 Taste of Home's Quick Cooking Annual Recipes.  
 For the next recipe, I tried one that was given to me by my Girl Scout leader when I graduated college! As I mentioned last time, I was always a little unsure of recipes with curry, but I have found that my adult palate enjoys it. This is Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, which has some curry in it but not a strong taste of it. It was really good over rice and the leftovers were even better - I love meals like that! 

Early in September, as the weather turned colder, I looked to a pasta dish. This one is from the March 2017 issue of Cooking Light and it was great. It is Chicken Piccata with crispy garlic. I liked the crispy garlic a lot and we had a good time telling the kids about the effect of garlic on your breath. In full disclosure, Mike did say that this recipe took longer than the advertised 30 minutes, but I'd say it is worth the time! 
 The last pictured meal is also from Cooking Light - Shrimp and Black Bean Tacos. These were really tasty - shrimp is paired with rice, beans, and pico de gallo, then topped with avocado. This is another one I could eat quite regularly! It was a big hit with the kids too - they love shrimp and pretty much anything that includes beans and rice. 
The last recipe doesn't have a picture - not sure if I wasn't home and missed it or was just super hungry and forgot - it is Curried Coconut Chicken from Fix-It and Enjoy It.  As you can tell, I don't have any memory of how it tasted, so we will have to try this one again! 

Thanks for following along - my daughter didn't do much baking over the summer - a few repeated recipes, but nothing new. I'll have to work on getting her back in the kitchen this fall! 

Hope you had some great meals over the summer, and if you have a must-try recipe for the fall, please let me know! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

August 2017 - Accomplishments and Stash Report

It seems like a long time since I've checked in, although I am pretty sure that most of you who read my blog also follow my activities on Instagram (@jenquilter). I try to save a few photos each month for my blog that I don't post on Instagram, so hopefully you see something new here. 

August was a great month after all the activity in July getting ready for, going on vacation, then getting things back together once home. I still have one load of towels that hasn't been washed yet! Work was really busy upon my return, so I didn't have much time or energy in the evenings, but I did manage to sew each weekend, and I got a lot of stitching done at the couch. Here's the roundup for the month:

Quilting - I spent 6 3/4 hours in my sewing room and here's what I got done: 
1. Made back, loaded, quilted, and made binding for a Quilt of Valor that will go to the Veterans group at work (this is a fun little story - we started a "Quilt Squad" at work and have about 10 women who meet quarterly over lunch to share projects, talk about quilting, help each other, and in our last meeting, we decided to make a couple QOVs for the Veteran group). I also got it handed off to the next person and she is attaching the binding. 
2. Made a car blanket and baby bib for a baby shower at work. It was so fun to make a few baby gifts! 
3. Made a back, loaded, and quilted the leftover QOV blocks to make a table runner quilt. I also made the binding and attached it (all by machine), so this one is done! 
4. Cut out and started piecing another baby quilt. 
5. Made a badge holder for my daughter's friend's mom who is teaching for her first year (she wanted a way to keep her school ID and phone handy). 
I also used a lot of fabric in the process this month - 7 3/8 yards! Backs are great for using some fabric and it was nice to pull out a baby quilt kit that I've had for a while and finally have a reason to make it up. Here's the official stash report: 

Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 9 3/8 yards (includes 2 yards I didn't count in July)
Fabric added year to date: 12 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 29 3/8 yards
Net fabric used: 16 3/4 yards

I'm linking up my stash report with quiltpaintcreate

Stitching - I had a great month for stitching and finished three projects that have been in progress for a while and one new one. One of them is a gift for a blog-reader, so I will show a picture of it after I've gifted it. Here are the other three: 
1. Beach Day by Country Cottage Needleworks - I used the called for thread and linen. Lots and lots of stitching in this one, but I think it turned out very pretty in the end. I think this one is big enough that it deserves an actual frame, so I will be keeping my eye out to find something that works with it. 

2. Christmas Alphabet Ornament - this was a freebie from the Facebook Candy Cane Stitchers group. It is by Heart in Hand and I used called for thread and linen, except for the alphabet - I substituted a different brown since neither my mom or I had the one she charted. I think it turned out pretty cute and will make a great ornament! 

3. Merry Christmas by Gail Pan - I just looked on her website and don't see this pattern available anymore. I bought this stamped onto a piece of linen at a quilt show in Hershey, PA several years ago and I think I started it about 2 years ago! I set a goal this year to spend one session doing embroidery between each big stitching finish. I've held to that goal and got close enough this time that I decided to finish it up! I am not sure what I'll do to finish this one...maybe a pillow, or maybe a fabric frame. I had fun using Sampler Threads and some silks and even a wool thread in this one. The only thing that has me a little scared is that I need to dampen it to wash out the markings (you can see a few shadows in blue) and I am hoping not to have any of the colors run. 

4. Surprise project that I'll show you in another month or two :) 

Well, sorry for the long post, but as you can see, it was a pretty productive month. My goal in September is to follow the #30daynationalsewingmonthchallenge and make time for needle and thread each day, even if only for a few minutes. I've done well so far - three for three, two days at the machine and one doing some hand binding. I am inspired by Kate at Life in Pieces who tracks the number of days she sews 15 minutes. I'll let you know how the rest of the month goes in a few weeks! 

Hope you had a great August and are enjoying the start of fall, my favorite season! 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

July 2017 Adventures and Accomplishments

July was quite an amazing month for our family. My son just finished fourth grade and we learned early in the year about the National Park Service program "Every Kid in a Park" which allows any fourth grader to get a free National Park pass. We started our planning in January and decided we would take an extra long vacation and see as many parks as we could from the comforts of an RV. Research commenced and we found a rental RV back in March. From there, maps were researched, campgrounds reserved, and finally supplies gathered. We headed out on July 7th and over the course of two weeks, we visited 10 states, 8 National parks, and 3 National monuments and drove 4,706 miles. It was ambitious but also incredibly fun and I saw a part of the country that amazed and impressed me. I can't share all the pictures here, but I've made a little slide show of some of the favorites (I hope this works!). 

As you can imagine, the travel didn't leave a lot of time for sewing in July. I took along far too many projects and barely worked on them. After getting settled back at home, I did put some focus last weekend into getting a few done, so I do have a couple to share with you today. I spent a total of 5 1/4 hours in my sewing room in July, mostly focused on the first project!

Before the trip, I had one goal - to get a couple hats made for me and Jenna to wear on the trip. I got hers done and it turned out that it was too tight for my head, so mine is still down in the basement waiting for some tailoring so that I can get it to fit. The pattern is Amelia Hat by Fig Tree, and I've had it for a long time! I originally bought it with the intent to make a hat for Jenna as a toddler. Here she is in the hat on our trip. The fabric is LuLu Lane by Cori Yoder. 

I started the Plus table runner at my Spring retreat, brought it home as a finished table runner, and quilted it in June. The pattern is from the book The Trendy Table by Heather Peterson, and the fabric is Lucy's Crab Shack, which I've had for a long time. I quilted it with wide wishbone shapes and it has great texture. I got the binding done and it is now on the coffee table for the summer. P.S. If you've never made one of Heather's patterns, they are fantastic - she writes so clearly and I love to make up her patterns.

The next finish is also a retreat project. I came home with this one already bound and just needed to add the stitching and buttons, but it lingered in the basement for a couple months. I also got it finished last weekend and pinned it up on the start of a mini-quilt wall in my sewing area. I am happy to have this little one done, as it will go up when all the Christmas decorations come down in my house. 
Here's the start of my mini quilt wall!
The final finish for the month is cross-stitch. I took this one on my trip as it was small. I really thought I'd work on it more, but came home with just part of the pumpkin stitched. No worries, I spent quite a bit of time stitching the week we got home and last weekend and I put the final backstitches into it on Monday night (July 31st!) so it counts as a finish for this month. The pattern is Jack-OH-Lantern by Sweetheart Tree. I've had this one for a long, long time (20+ years) - it was 55 cents when I bought it! Not only does it appear to be out of print, but it isn't even listed on their website. 

While we were gone, my mom took my main machine (Janome 6600) for service and the technician had to reset and/or redo the tension because it was so out of whack. It is back and in good shape - I've attached a quilt binding and made a back since it was home and it appears to be working well. I am really glad to have it back and in good shape and hope that will inspire me to do a little more sewing in August. 

The last thing I have to share is the neat opportunity that we had on day 2 of our vacation to meet up with two other bloggers in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. I met them both online around 10-11 years ago. I met Moneik in person at my first retreat around 2008 or 2009, and have been within miles of meeting Colleen before, but never quite close enough. When we discovered we would all be in the same area at the same time, we made plans to meet for a cookout dinner. It was a great evening and so fun to meet the husbands and kids I read so much about on their blogs. Moneik, who still sews way more than anyone I know, made little bags for all the kids, plus bags for me and Colleen. My bag became the collector for all the little purchases I made during the trip, and now I have it in my sewing room waiting for the next project to be put in it. It really is neat how these online friendships turn into real ones over the years and it was great to see/meet these women and their families. 

With that, I will leave you to your weekend - hope you have a great one! It is unseasonably cool in Indianapolis, with no 80's in the 10 day forecast!! I plan to get some walking in, throw open the windows, and do some stitching and sewing. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June 2017 Accomplishments and Stash Report

It is Tuesday afternoon as I type this, but it sure feels like a Sunday afternoon. It was a nice treat to have a four day weekend to end off June and start July. We've spent time with friends and family this weekend, I did a little sewing and stitching, we saw some fireworks and a couple movies, and now we're waiting for some ribs on the grill. A great weekend all around! 

I found myself spending a little more time in my sewing room in June, despite a couple setbacks. The first was water in the corner of the basement. It took two plumber visits to find the actual issue (or there really were two issues), and we wound up with a stinky and damp basement for a couple weeks, which made it a pretty unappealing place to be! The good news is that it's dry now and we have a new dehumidifier that is working really well, making the temperature downstairs a lot more comfortable.  The second setback is my Janome 6600. It was acting up a little at my retreat in May, but still managed to work well enough to get my projects done, albeit with the top tension turned up really high. Once I got it home, I fiddled with it for a while to see if I could fix the tension issue, but no luck. It is now waiting with my mom to go for a visit to the dealer about 1/2 hour north of here. She will take it in when she goes to pick up her new machine in a few weeks (she is getting a Brother Embroidery machine). 

So, given both of the above, I set up my small machine in the dining room and did my sewing from there in June. I also got a little time in on my HQ. All told, I had 9 3/4 hours of quilting time in June, but have a pretty short list of accomplishments. I have several things near the finish line, so hope to have more to report in the coming months. 
- Mini-Lotus top made with batiks from my stash. This is a pattern I picked up a couple years ago in Shipshewana and my mom has the ruler, both from Jaybird Quilts. I found it pretty easy to cut out, and nice to make. All the little shapes fit together pretty well! 
Mini Lotus Top

- Flag blocks for a QOV - we've started a quilt squad at work where we meet quarterly for lunch and share finishes, ask questions, talk about patterns, websites, etc. and decided to make a couple of quilts of valor for our Veteran's network to recognize some great work they did last year. We all made 4 blocks and wound up with enough for two quilts - I assembled one of them and will quilt it and then pass it off to another "quilt squadder" to attach the binding. We hope to have them both finished by our lunch next quarter. 
My blocks
The finished top! 

- Quilted my Plus table runner that I made at my May retreat. I found a great tone on tone green backing for it, got it loaded and quilted, and just attached the binding yesterday. This one will go in the car with my on our road trip vacation so that I have a little hand work to do during some long driving days. (Just realized that I don't have a picture of the quilted table runner, so I will snap a pic on our trip!)

In terms of how this all affected my stash, not much change. I did a little shopping at the beginning of the month, and used a little fabric for all three of the projects. 
Fabric added this month: 2 1/4 yards
Fabric used this month: 1 1/2 yards

Fabric added year to date: 12 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 20 yards

Net fabric used: 7 3/8 yards - feels like I am barely staying ahead! 

On the stitching side, I feel like I did a lot of stitching this month, but don't have anything to show for it! No finishes, but two projects that are pretty close. I may or may not take them on vacation, as I already had in my mind a few projects to take on vacation...we'll see how I am feeling when it is time to pack our bags! 

The other thing that took a lot of my time in June is Girl Scouts. In addition to leading my daughter's Cadette troop next year, I will be the Service Unit Manager for our area. I am looking forward to the position, and spent a Saturday morning getting some good training. I followed that up with a zip-lining trip with my girls, and then a week later went to the Council brunch to celebrate my daughter and 4 other girls from our troop earning their Bronze Awards. My daughter decided she wanted to invite my mom, who was my girl scout leader, to the brunch. We got a picture in our uniforms before the lunch :) 
Me, Jenna, and my mom :) 
How was your June?  Hope you found some time to dedicate to the things you enjoy most. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

A few new recipes - Spring 2017

The number of new recipes we try has really started to dwindle given how many great ones we have discovered. On a typical weekend, I will now start with the existing book or folder and see what we haven't had in a while vs. looking for something new to make. Every once in a while, I get the itch to try something else, so here are a few of the ones we've made over the past few months. 

I'll start with dinners, then move on to the fun stuff! First up is ham loaf, a meal I never realized existed until we went to Shipshewana and saw it on a menu. My two Illinois friends talked it up last year and I recently found a recipe for it in my Fit it and Enjoy it cookbook. It took me a few weeks to find ground ham, but once I did, we made it right up and it was delicious! I think we've had it three times since then! 
Next up is a recipe I may have posted a long time ago, but it's so good, I thought I'd share it again! It is from my neighbor and originally came from Cooking Light. It is called Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo (otherwise known as all of my favorite ingredients in one dish). This one takes a little prep work, so isn't an easy weeknight meal, but is worth the effort when you do make it.  
We tried Spinach Artichoke Elegance on a night when we had friends over for dinner (the kids ate chicken tenders!), and it was very tasty. It take a lot of prep work too, so won't be on the menu very often, but it was very tasty, so another one I'd pull out again when we have time for it :) 
When we found ourselves with a little bacon and a little chicken, we made up Creamy Chicken with Bacon and Penne on the Kraft website. This is another one that was really tasty, and the prep work wasn't hard on it, so we will see it again next time we have a partial package of bacon left! 
As the weather started to warm up, we started to look for meals that didn't take a lot of heat in the oven. This recipe for Shrimp Tortilla Pizza is in our Mr. Food cookbook and it was great. The kids had theirs without olives and we all liked it. This is an easy dinner for a busy night. 
The last dinner recipe is one that's been in the folder and I've looked at many, many times since we started this challenge. I always thought I wasn't a big fan of curry, so it never made its way out of the folder until after a recent trip to an excellent Indian restaurant. I was feeling adventurous so put this one on the menu and it was great. The kids even enjoyed it, which was a surprise to me. It didn't have a really strong curry flavor, but did have the right amount of spice. It is called Fusilli with Curried Chicken and Vegetables
Now, on to the fun stuff! I've shared before that my daughter really likes to bake. For Easter, she picked out an angel food cake to make and it was absolutely delicious! It is Key Lime Coconut Angel Food Cake from Betty Crocker, and it starts with a box recipe. Jenna enjoyed making the icing, cutting the cake to make two layers, and especially decorating it with jelly beans! 
Next up for Jenna was another round of Strawberry Shortcake. She decided to make a large shortcake this time rather than individual biscuits, but it was just as good as the last version she made. The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook was the source for this one. 
Last up is the cake my husband decorated for Jenna's 12th birthday, a Stampy Cat themed party. I picked up all the fondant (which we've never tried before), and he rolled them out and shaped them correctly, and she was thrilled! Stampy Cat is a character from Minecraft, and was the perfect mascot for a cat-loving, Minecraft loving girl. 
 Hope you enjoyed all the new recipes and find one that you'll want to try! 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

May 2017 Stash Report and Accomplishments

May was a banner month for me - I dedicated a bit of time to retreat prep, then had four great days at retreat. You can see my whole retreat report in the previous post. 
Retreat prep - cutting out the Plus table runner
I did add a little fabric at retreat - we went to Lolly's, a great quilt shop, and they have this big boat of fat quarters, and they give us a couple for one free fat quarter. So, I sat down by the boat and started pulling out all the fat quarters that were good blenders, mostly tone on tones. I kept pulling and before I knew it, I had 12, and the deal is better when you buy 12, so I did! Add my free fat quarter and two they gave us at retreat, and I came home with over 4 yards of new fabric. 
Fun Fat Quarters and a couple patterns from retreat
I also did a good job of using fabric this month. Some of the retreat pre-cutting was counted in April, but I also had usage in May for the Plus table runner, mini-pumpkins, the back of my cascading triangles top, the mini pop-up, and the sit and stitch. 

The cascading triangles was my UFO for the month. I got the back made, loaded, and quilted it all in one day, then took it to retreat to put on the binding. This is going to be a Christmas gift this year and I look forward to gifting it as I think the recipient will really like it.  
Quilting on Cascading Triangles

Finished table runner all bound
I wound up with 27 hours of quilting time and a pretty coincidental stash report: 

Fabric added in May: 4 1/4 yards
Fabric added year to date: 10 3/8 yards

Fabric used in May: 4 1/4 yards
Fabric used year to date: 18 1/2 yards

Net fabric used: 8 1/8 yards

On the cross-stitch side, I finished up Lady in Harbor, one of my planned kits for the year.  This was given to me at a stitching day and there is no picture with the kit, so I wasn't quite sure how she'd look in the end. I think I will look for a frame so that I can try framing her myself. If anyone is interested in the pattern, I will be happy to put it in an envelope and send it your way. I did highlight parts of it, so it might be somewhat challenging to follow, but I am happy to pass it on to another stitcher. 
My second finish for the month is called Christmas in Ohio, from the 2016 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments magazine. I will probably finish this one as a flat fold. I have a few waiting to be done so need to plan a finishing day soon! 
Hope you had a great May - thanks for stopping by to see what I've been working on! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Spring 2017 Retreat Report

This spring, my quilting group decided on a new location for our spring retreat. We joined Ruthie and the Threads of Mine quilters in Shipshewana at the Farmstead Inn, just like we do in the fall! The spring group is about 1/2 the size of the fall group, and it worked out great. We drove up on Wednesday and started sewing on Thursday. This time, we didn't go anywhere after retreat (in the fall, we head to brunch and a quilt shop together), so I even got to do some sewing on Sunday morning. 
Gorgeous sunset over the Farmstead Inn
My goal for this retreat was to work on several small projects, with a hope that I could finish things before I got home, since I don't seem to be doing much sewing at home these days. I spent the month beforehand pre-cutting projects so I would be ready to go and it was a good strategy as always. 

I started the retreat by working on a couple table runners. The first one is my UFO for this month and just needed to have binding attached. It was nice to have that project done just an hour into the retreat! After that, I worked on a new table runner that will go on my coffee table in the summer. It is a pattern called Plus from Trendy Tablerunners by Heather Peterson. I love her patterns and this one turned out great. It is a little hard to tell from the picture, but the background fabric is blue. It is from a fabric line called Lucy's Crab Shack from a few summers ago. I've been waiting for the perfect project for it. I still have a few pieces of the fabric left, so will need to find something to make with the leftovers. 

After table runners and dinner, I pulled out one of my stitched pieces and made it into a flange pillow from Vonna Pfeiffer's tutorial. I am really pleased with how well the fabric complements this piece and look forward to displaying it next holiday season. I also worked on another kit that night, but didn't get it finished, so I will hold off on the picture until I can show it completed (it is really close, just doing hand stitching). 

Friday dawned a beautiful day and I thought it would be good to dig into my most complex project, Mini Pumpkins by Sew Kind of Wonderful. This project is lots of curved piecing, and it took me the better part of the day to get it into a completed top, but I am really happy with it! I will have to think hard about how to quilt this one to accentuate the pumpkins and keep it looking modern. It will go perfectly above the couch in our family room during the fall. 

On Saturday morning, I started with a quickie, a little pop up - it has a metal spring inside and can fold down flat or pop up to hold goodies or a soda can. I've also had this fabric a long time and I am pretty proud of myself that I got the tulips going the right way! 

After that, I started work on the kit I bought earlier this year, a Frivol tin. I worked on it a while, then took a break, then came back to it later in the night. I got it into a center - there are still 3 borders that need to be added. I am not sure what I'll do with this one, but I love the light, bright colors. It will be about 60" square when finished, maybe a bit too big for a wall, but a bit too small for a lap. 

The last project I will share is my Sit and Stitch. My mom and I both made these and I had so much fun! I picked out the fabric earlier this year with this project in mind and it turned out just like I imagined. I love the finished project and it is sitting next to me on the arm of the couch right now. 

On Sunday morning, I did work on one last project - my Hunter's Star quilt. I found binding for it at one of the local quilt shops, got it cut, ironed, and sewn on before we left and now I just need to attach the other side of the binding. I will get another picture of that quilt when it is all done. 
A delicious Amish style dinner
For the first time I can remember, I worked on every project that I took to retreat. And, I got a couple of them completely done! It felt really good to make so much progress. Next up is to have both of my machines serviced - the regular sewing machine and the longarm. They are both being a little persnickety, so need some attention, oil, and adjustments. I am hoping to get that done in early June so that I can get a few of these projects to fully finished. 

Hope you enjoyed the retreat recap! I'll be back in a few days with a stash report to show you the result of all this good work on the stash!