Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Quilt #1 2015 - Brenda's Comfort Quilt

At the end of last year, my mom and I were talking about what we could do to help a member of our girl scout troop (she was my leader for 12 years) who is fighting breast cancer.  As quilters, you can guess what we decided!  My mom had some fabric left from making Girl Scout quilts a few years ago and our friend Kathy also had a few pieces left, so we pulled them together, added some tone on tones that matched, and put together a neat lap size top. 

I quilted it quickly with all over loops and hearts, and we sent it off to her.  I hope that she is enjoying it and that it is keeping her warm as she goes through chemo! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stash Report - Weeks 5-9, 2015

I keep meaning to post a stash report on Sunday  morning, but then the day gets busy and by the end of the day, I think I will just add it into the next week. My primary machine has been in the shop since early in February and I have been stitching away on the couch much of the month, so just a little sewing has been going on.  I have also started doing a little prep work for the retreat that I will go to in mid-March with my bee. 

The summary of my additions/usage are: 
- Cut out and finished some coffee cup holders from a kit I bought long, long ago. 

Coffee cup holders - another kit done! 
- Added and then immediately used a fat quarter for an embroidery project that I've started. 
Beginning of the Alphabet Sampler
- Handed out a fat quarter for a bee birthday gift. 
- Started cutting out a winter quilt kit to work on at retreat. 
- Finished one of my cross stitch projects into a cube, using a little fabric along the way. 
Cross stitch cube
- Cut out a vinyl bag that I have ready to go to my retreat. 

The result of those activities is: 
Fabric added last 4 weeks: 1/4 yard
Fabric used last 4 weeks: 2 5/8 yards

Fabric added year to date: 1/4 yard
Fabric used year to date: 7 3/4 yards

I am a couple yards ahead of where I was at the same time last year, and I have plans to keep cutting for retreat prep, so hope to make some more progress before I spend a long weekend at a quilt shop where temptation is far too close! 

Hope you've been having fun with your stash and making progress on projects that you're enjoying! 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

January 2015 Accomplishments

I had a great January of 2015.  The year started by working with my mom on a comfort quilt for one of the girls who was in our girl scout troop, and I also made a little progress on my year of the kits resolution.  I didn't spend a whole lot of time in the sewing room because I was also doing a lot of cross-stitching. Here's what I did in January: 

In the quilting arena, I put in about 16 1/2 hours of cutting, piecing, and quilting time and finished the following projects: 
- Red cash and carry bag (a kit!)
- Fleece scarf for Jenna
- Made top with my mom, made back, and quilted comfort quilt for fellow Girl Scout

- Made my first two string blocks
- Cut out and pieced Winterberry Lane (another kit!) top
- Messed with my machine tension until I couldn't mess with it any longer...and subsequently wound up sending my machine to the shop where it is getting a new tensioner. 

In the cross-stitch arena, I am not tracking time, but I am tracking finishes: 
- Evergreen Sampler (a kit!)
- Wee Snowman by Heart in Hand

I am moving along in February too - but with more stitching than sewing time, at least to this point in the  month!  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Recipes from January 2015

We tried some new things this month and also revisited some that we've made over the past few years.  Since I don't have a specific challenge this year, I am mixing it up and anything is game - internet, emailed, cut out, or cookbook recipes. 

Here's what we tried in January, plus one carryover from December that I left out! 

Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo - this was easy to make - I love it when you can actually cook a recipe like this and just dirty two pans.  The taste was okay - not as good as some other similar recipes that we've tried, but the easy part really sells it, so I think we will likely make it again for a weeknight meal. 

Tandoori Chicken Thighs - I have never cooked with chicken thighs before, but thought I would follow directions for this. The flavor of this tandoori was subtle but good. I would probably use chicken breasts next time as I prefer the texture of them, but this was another easy one - I think we'll pull this recipe out again in the summer when we do more of our cooking on the grill (we used our indoor grill for this and made a mess of it!). 
Italian Pork Sandwiches - This also called for a meat that I hadn't bought before - pork cutlets. When I found it on sale, I knew I needed to try this one.  These sandwiches were delicious!  We liked them so much that I tried the same thing a week later with beef cutlets - on those the flavor was good, but the meat was  tough, so we will return to the pork as our first choice. I jokingly told Mike that I was going to keep buying cutlets of different meat each week to see what else worked, and I just might keep an eye out for chicken or turkey - I bet they would be almost as good as the pork! 

Chopped chickpea salad pitas - I made this for a weekend lunch because I was tired of eating boring lunches and it didn't disappoint!  Not only did I enjoy the pita, but the filling was the right blend of savory and lemony.  I would make a double batch of this next time! It also ages well as the flavors all meld together in the fridge. 

One-Dish Chicken and Stuffing Bake - I guess this was my month to try Campbell's soup recipes!  This one was also good, but not great. Another very easy meal to make, and it made a good amount of food (enough for almost two full dinners for our family of 4).  There is another chicken and stuffing dish that I have in my recipe book which I prefer, but it also calls for a lot more prep and about a stick of butter, so this one is probably a little more healthy!
The next two recipes were in a cookbook that a friend from bee gave me - it is a compilation of recipes from members of her quilt guild.  I tried two recipes from it this month and managed to find both of them online! 

Broccoli and Cheese Puffle - I made this for a pitch-in at work and it was easy to make (which was really nice since I made it the morning of!) and it tasted really good. I thought it would have a puffy top, but that didn't matter once you got a bite. I would definitely make this again for a pitch-in. 

Asian Roll-ups - These are wrap sandwiches filled with salmon mixed with some spices an a dressing, which you can also dip them in.  This one was tasty and would be a good recipe for the summer when we don't want to cook as much since it just requires mixing.  The recipe didn't make much, so we would need to increase it in the future. (Sorry - must have been too hungry to snap a picture!)

And our carry-over from December - Chicken Tortilla Soup from a Pampered Chef magazine. This was the best tortilla soup I have ever had!  Mike had it ready for me on a night when it was super cold and I got home from work really late, and it hit the spot! I will put this into our rotation for the winter months for sure! 

Hope you saw something that sounds good! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stash Report - Weeks 3-4, 2015

It has been a relatively quiet few weeks in my sewing room.  I also managed to stay away from the quilt shops, so that really helps the stash report. At the same time last year, I'd added over 5 yards to my stash and used about 2 1/2.  This year, I am working on using some fabric, especially in kits.  

My usage over the past two weeks is for two things - the first is my experimenting with color and scraps. I picked blue as my color of the month and made a couple string blocks. I really enjoyed this and realized in the process that I can made a ton of string blocks with all the scraps I have in my scrap buckets! I might get a couple more made this month, but even if not, I think this is a good start for my year. The only fabric that is being counted for these blocks is the muslin foundation, because I figure I have already counted the scraps when I cut the original fabric. 

The second bit of usage is from my first kit of the year, Winterberry Singles "Merry and Bright" by Whimsicals.  My goal this year is to make up several of my kits (enough so you can see the difference when I take a picture of them at the end of the year). I cut out the first one this week, spent several hours working on it today, and it is now a finished top.  I have a quilt ready to go on the frame, but then plan to quilt this right after that so that I can call it finished! 

Here's the accounting: 

Fabric added last two weeks: 0 yards
Fabric used last two weeks: 1 3/4 yards

Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 5 1/8 yards

I am pretty happy with the usage so far, and hoping that I can keep it going for at least a few more weeks. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Goals

I declare 2015 The Year of the Kits!   I have decided that my primary goal for my quilting and cross-stitching in 2015 will be to focus on the kits I have. That doesn't mean that I won't also work on other projects, but I will make a concerted effort to start to make up/finish the many kits I have purchased, won, or been gifted. 

Here's a picture of my quilting kits: 

And my cross-stitch kits: 
Sorry - can't get this one to turn...but either way you look at it, there are a lot of kits! 
I should have no lack of things to do! 

To go along with the year of the kits, I also have a few other crafting and personal goals. 

Crafting goals: 
1. Experiment with some single color piecing (many fabrics, one color) - I have lots and lots of scraps and I think this will be a good way to use some of them and also try my hand at string piecing.  I am not sure what I will do with the finished blocks, but I am not going to worry about that now!  My tentative plan is to pick a color each month, and experiment with that color. 
2. Start to clear out some of the stash - after four years with Lois' stash plus my own, I have started to come to the realization that there are some pieces I really won't ever use, so I plan to do a little cleaning out this year - some may go to charity and some may be sold.
3. Keep quilting - quilt at least another 20 tops on my HQ Avante. 
4 Keep stitching - continue my momentum from the past month and get some serious cross-stitching done this year. I'd like to work on the kits, but also make some ornaments. 5. Continue to learn crocheting - I have enjoyed this new craft and want to keep learning and trying new things. I hope to finish several projects this year. 

Personal goals: 
I am keeping this simple this year and giving myself one goal/challenge. Each week, I will clean up one small space. I am really good at stuffing things into nooks and crannies, so my goal is to work through corners, junk drawers, bags, boxes, etc. I figure if I work on just one small space at a time, then it isn't too daunting. I have already completed this for the first two weeks of the year - first with the bottom of the pantry, and then with a trunk of kids clothes - and feel I have a good start. A lot of this won't be noticed by others, but I hope it will help me feel a little less cluttered.  

I will keep you updated throughout the year on the sidebar of my blog.  If you want to join me in the year of the kits, I will be posting pictures on instagram with #yearofthekits.  

So, do you have any goals this year?  Let me know what they are and if I get enough comments, I will do a little giveaway to get me started on crafting goal #2! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stash Report - Week 2, 2015

Since the stash is going in the right direction, I decided to write up a quick report for this week.  Monday was my bee's work day, and my mom and I worked on making a back and binding for the comfort quilt we are making together. I brought lots of fabric to choose from and the most unlikely piece turned into the binding. Isn't it funny when that happens?  My mom took the job of making the binding on the bias, and I pieced the back.  

I would normally show a picture, but it is loaded on my frame and the picture of it rolled up and upside-down would be pretty wierd, so I will just wait and show pictures once we get it quilted (my job) and bound (mom's job).  

No shopping this week, so no fabric added - that makes for a nice report! 

Fabric added this week: 0 yards
Fabric used this week: 2 3/4 yards

Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 3 3/4 yards

Net fabric used: 3 3/4 yards

Hope you had a great week with your stash!