2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Sunday, March 8, 2020

February 2020

I am so happy to be writing this post as I look out on a sunny, warm day that almost feels like spring! February had a few of those days too, and I also headed south for a quick trip so had a few nice sunny days that I enjoyed in Feb too. Between work and kids, I didn't have quite as much craft time as I did in January, but I am still pleased with what was able to work on and finish. 

I had my first finish for February on the first weekend - I finished this cute little project from Lizzie Kate, in the Winter leaflet. It is a great one for our family, as we all like to ski. I will probably finish this into a cube (someday!!) and it will be great to put out after all the holiday decorations come down and the house looks empty. 
Next up on the stitching front was my Stichingly Months of the Year SAL - for February, we had a beautiful heart. I love the vibrant colors and think it looks really nice next to January.
February section for Stitchingly SAL
January and February together
Down in the basement, I was inspired to pull out another UFO and get it quilted. I found the perfect fabric in my stash for the back and decided to invest some time in custom quilting the letters in this one. It came together thanks to the inspiration in the book (Alphabet Quilts by Julie Herman). I pulled a batik that complements the letters for the binding and got it all done just before Valentine's Day. I've enjoyed having it on my dining room table since then. 
Close ups of each letter
The end of the month had me stitching on a few new projects, and working on (but not finishing) orange scrap blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. 

Here are the official stats for February: 
Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 1/2 yard
Fabric added year to date: 0 yards 
Fabric used year to date: 1 1/4 yards

I am planning to work on a little bigger UFO in March, so hopefully I will get those numbers moving a little more. 

For crafting time, I managed to find at least 15 minutes to stitch, crochet, or quilt on 17 days of the month. I started off really strongly at the first third of the month, but then evening meetings or events got in the way. Even so, that keeps my record at 59% for the month and I can live with that. 

I also struggled to get in as much exercise time in February, but I still had 2 weeks with at least 90 minutes of exercise. I've found that if I get in a few good walks on the weekend, I can usually make it, but when the weekends are busy, I struggle to find enough time during the week. One week, I was only 10 minutes short, so I am still doing well at getting some exercise in even when I can't meet my goal. 

Looking ahead to the rest of March and hoping to be back with a few more updates for you this month if I can keep myself motivated and work doesn't get in the way too much! Hope you're having a great day and have been able to find a few minutes to craft.

Linking up with Kate at Life in Pieces and Donna at Quiltpaintcreate

Sunday, February 2, 2020

January 2020

Wow, how did the first month of 2020 go so quickly? It is hard to believe it is already over and I know the rest of the year will come flying at us. 

I had a great month in January - lots of time for stitching, some crochet, and some good sewing, and also warmer than normal weather, which helped me achieve some of my exercise goals. I've already shared my first two accomplishments of the year here, and my RSC project here, so today, I will share the other finishes. 

Let's start with quilting - over the holidays, I pulled out a quilt top that I made at a retreat back in 2015. I am sure I had grand plans at the time to quilt it once I got home, but that didn't happen! When I pulled it out to see if it was big enough to be a holiday bed quilt (it wasn't), I realized that I really like it so decided to get the back made and get it quilted. It sat on the frame for a couple weeks because I didn't really know how I wanted to quilt it. I knew I wanted to do some custom quilting, but trying to figure out how is always that hard part. In the end, I just started, and made it up along the way. I am pleased with how it turned out - there are still some things I need to practice, but as many quilters have said, "done is better than perfect!" I sewed on the binding last weekend and then hand sewed it during the week, finishing it up on Thursday night. This is my UFO Challenge #3 for the year, and I am thrilled to have it done. 
Loved having some sunshine to get an outdoor picture today!
Closeup of the quilting texture
In the stitching area, I joined the Stitchingly Months of the Year SAL (stitch-a-long), mostly because the January motif is so cute. I just love the koala! I enjoyed finding a piece of stash fabric and digging through my threads to find almost all of what I need. It took a couple weeks to get the frame and the January piece finished. I love the bright and cheery colors and I am looking forward to stitching the next part which arrived today.

I also found a frame for one of my 2019 finishes and framed Cozy In. It is up on my mantel and makes me smile, even though our weather isn't quite so cold as to make me want to cozy in! 

I found success with all of my tracking challenges in January, here are the reports: 

Stash Report: 
Fabric added this month/year: 0 yards
Fabric added this month/year: 3/4 yard
Net fabric used: 3/4 yard

Stitching time: 24 days with at least 15 minutes of time crafting, 77%

Exercise: 4/5 weeks with at least 90 minutes of exercise, 80% - the warmer than normal weather really helped to make some walks after work possible.

All in all, a good start to the year! Hoping the rest of the year brings more of the same. 

Linking up with Kate at Life In Pieces for the stitching time report and Donna at Quilt Paint Create for the stash report

Saturday, January 25, 2020

2020 Rainbow Scrap Challenge

Look at this - another post before the end of the month! This year, I am going to participate in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela over at So Scrappy. I made blocks two years ago that turned into this quilt top last year (third picture in the post). I need to get it quilted and that is definitely on my list, but I had so much fun making the blocks and I love the end result that I decided to start another one. 

I was inspired by Kate a few years ago to pick a pattern that I want to make and use that for the RSC. I was also inspired by Laura when she made this quilt. I had the book and have wanted to make it, so that will be my pattern for this year - this is the cover quilt and the one I am going to make. 
Irish Chain Quilts by Melissa Corry
My son happened to mention that he'd like a new quilt sometime soon and I thought this one would fit the bill - he took a look at the pattern and gave it a thumbs up. I may have to alter the size so it fits an extra long bed, as he is growing like crazy these days (currently 12 years old and about 5'9")! 

I started off this month and loved working with the bright greens. I've never done much crazy piecing, so I had a little learning to do about how to construct the blocks, but I think they came together pretty well. 

These greens will get chopped up and added to navy blue fabric (my son requested a dark instead of light background). I don't know yet if I will use scrappy navies or one consistent. Either way, I plan to make the monthly color blocks through May and then will take them to my Spring retreat to cut up and sew to the navy.  If I have enough blocks by then, it will turn into a top; if not, I will keep making blocks and take them to my fall retreat to finish up and turn into a top. If all goes well, he will have a new quilt by the end of the year! 

I am looking forward to seeing all the other RSC blocks and quilts come together over the course of the year. Let me know what you're planning to make with yours! 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A strong start for Jan 2020

One of the things I am going to try to do a little better job of this year is posting in smaller snippets. While I enjoy only lugging out the computer, loading photos, etc. once a month, I feel like it is taking a really long time to get everything written and posted, so in months where I am around and have a few things to share by mid-month, I will try to give you a middle of the month update. For those of you who blog more often, do you blog from a laptop or do you have a good app that you use so that you can blog from an iPad?

January started great for me as I decided to take off the 2nd and 3rd, so I didn't have to return to work until the 6th. I made good use of that time and got some good time in my sewing room. 

First up for the new year was to start strong with a cross-stitch FFO (fully finished object). If you've been reading for a while, you know I need to work on this. If you're new here, just know I have lots of cross-stitch that is stitched but awaiting a finish so it can be displayed/enjoyed!  After a couple fits and starts with ornaments that never got finished over the holidays, I decided to make a pillow. I pulled out a Valentine's piece from Heart to Hand that I stitched only a couple years ago and got it put into a pillow. I followed Cathy Haberman's technique to sew it all round, snip in the back to stuff it, and then cover the snip by fusing on a piece of fabric. I am really pleased with how this wound up and it is already out for display a little ahead of February! 

Next up was a little quilting - I had been puttering along on a pillow started last summer - pieces were cut and I was sewing them a little bit at a time. I made a concerted effort to get the piecing done, used some time while on a phone call to trim them up, and finally got them into a finished pillow. 
Flat without the pillow
Ready to use!
I quilted this one on my Janome and had to reacquaint myself with the machine a little. I did a continuous curves variation on each triangle and realized I could use a little more free motion quilting practice. I used a light yellow thread that worked well with all the different colors. I liked the light to dark arrangement and I think it will add a fun pop of color during these gray January days. 

I also loaded and started quilting one of my UFOs - a quilt top that I finished several years ago. I got some good quilting time this afternoon and it is almost halfway done, so I hope to have that finished to share at the end of the month. I have also been doing some stitching and crocheting in the evenings (especially during the week), which is a nice way to relax at the end of a long work day. 

Hope your start to the year has gone well - what have you been up to this early January? Any snow in your neck of the woods? None here and I am missing it a little, but also enjoying a January that feels more like March! 

Happy crafting and see you again at the end of the month! 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Books from 2019

One more post before I go back to work, because I know after that, they will be few and far between, although I am going to try to get a little better about that this year. 

One of my goals for 2019 was to read 10 books. I specifically set this goal, as I enjoy reading, but had been reading really long books for the last few years and I wanted to make sure I could get some more volume in to catch up on the long list of books I want to read. I enjoy reading reviews of others so hope that some of you enjoy reading these reviews and find a book or two you want to add to your list. 

In order, here are the 19 books I read in 2019, with a short comment about each of them: 

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - a good quick read about a small town during WW2. I can't remember the full plot now, but it was an enjoyable if not memorable read. 
2. Hamilton by Ron Chernow - This is one of the long books I started in 2018 and I worked my way through all 750+ pages. It was such an interesting portrait into the early founding of the US. I especially enjoyed reading about Hamilton's personal life, but also found that the politics of the time seem to have been just about as divisive as ours are now. 
3. The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams - a good beach read (although I read it long before beach season) with a few twists and turn. Some of it seemed quite predictable, but just when I thought I'd figured it out, there was some new information. It kept me interested until the end. 
4. Into the Light by Aletha Romig - this one was loaned to me by a coworker, and it was excellent. It is a suspense story and I totally thought I had it figured out. When I learned on the last page of the book that I was totally wrong, I had to immediately tear into the sequel, 
5. Away from the Dark by Aletha Romig - Wow, great sequel to the book above. You never quite knew how things were going to go and it kept you guessing right to the last page. If you decide to read these two, make sure you get them at the same time so that you can go right from one to the other! 
6. Room by Emma Donoghue - I found this under my bedside table when I was cleaning in the spring and finally read this book that my mom probably loaned me 3 years ago! It was a somber read, but a very good one. I still need to find a night to watch the movie that was made about it. 
7. The Second Mrs. Hockaday - Recommended by another blogger I follow, this one followed a woman left at home alone during the Civil War. It was a good story, but something about it just didn't work as well for me. I can't quite remember if it was the sequence of the chapters or the style of writing, but this one was an okay book, but certainly not the top of my list for the year. 
8. Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy - Also found in the bedside table cleaning, I gobbled this one up - I've read quite a few of her books and this one doesn't disappoint. It was a nice coming-of-age story of two friends during WW2 that followed them to their early adult years. If you like her writing, you'd like this one too. 
9. The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson - A young, unmarried, pregnant woman goes home to care for her grandmother in a small town in the south. She is working hard to hide her pregnancy so she doesn't become the talk of the town, all while helping her grandmother who is going through stages of dementia. It was a lovely story of a granddaughter/grandmother relationship, and also a good portrait into decisions women make for themselves and others. 
10. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes - This was my third or fourth Jojo Moyes book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It follows a similar formula as her other novels, and is a really good read. If you haven't read any Jojo Moyes, this would be a good one to start with. 
11. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - I know I am late to the party of this one, but so glad I read it. It was a dark, inspiring, twisty, and loving story of two women in France during WW2. I can see why it was such a big hit when it came out. 
12. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - Maybe because I read this WW2 story right after The Nightingale, it wasn't as strong of a book for me. In the end, I liked the story, but it really took me a while to get into it. I was probably more than halfway through the book before I knew I had to finish it. 
13. Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole - I read this one while in Ireland in September and really enjoyed reading a book set so close to where I was. This one was a WW1 book and I really liked the style of writing and the switch between two time periods. It was a lovely and fairly quick read. 
14. On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher - This was a good book about a family - dad and three sisters - who were working together to rebuild an island off the coast of Maine as a tourist destination. It was a good story, similar to so many other stories that happen on islands off the East Coast. If you want a good mindless book, it is worth a read - fairly predictable, but also fairly enjoyable. 
15. I Was Here by Gayle Forman - the narrator of this book is working to figure out why her best friend died by suicide. They had gone separate ways after graduating high school and started to fall away from each other when it happened. It was a good portrait into friendship and how it changes over time, the things we choose not to see in those who we love, and how to deal with loss. 
16. The River by Peter Heller - one of my favorites of the year, the story of two friends on a canoe trip. I don't want to give too much away for this one, but after finding a woman by herself on the river, there are lots of twists and turns. I didn't want to put this book down! It was one of the best suspense books I've read. 
17. The Discovery of Insulin by Michael Bliss - I work for the company that commercialized insulin, but didn't know much about the discovery of the drug. I was given this book a few years ago by one of the VPs at work and grabbed it one night when I didn't have anything else to read (I am not much of a non-fiction reader). I read it between the other books - a chapter here and there. It was quite dry, but very interesting to learn about the scientists who worked to discover, test, and then manufacture this drug that really was (and is) a lifesaver for people with diabetes. I also appreciated learning a little about my company history and how we got involved to manufacture the medicine. 
18. The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook - Another WW2 book, but this one a different take, as it followed a family who came to Germany to be with their dad/husband who was supporting reconstruction efforts after the war. I really enjoyed this different type of war story. 
19. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - this story of children stolen from their homes and put into the Mississippi adoption process was a really good read of a horrible situation. A few of the characters are real, but the story is fiction. The narrator of the story flexed between one of the children who was old enough to realize what was going on and a woman in present day who was trying to unravel the mystery of her family's involvement. 

It is hard to pick a favorite for the year, but I think the suspense books were at the top - Into the Light and Away from the Dark and The River. They were quickly followed by The Nightingale, Before We Were Yours, Room, and Hamilton. 

I am already off and reading for 2020, and finished my first book today! Hope you found something you might enjoy from this list and please let me know if you read a great book in 2019 that I should add to my list! 

Plans and Goals for 2020

In some years, I have lots of inspiration for my goals leading up to the new year, and I am ready to go on Jan 1.  This year, I am still waiting for inspiration to strike! But I also know that I head back to work tomorrow and then find a lot less time for blogging, so I think I will take a few minutes to record my goals for the year that I've formulated by now. There may be more to come, but I think this is a good start. 

I know that 2020 will bring more work travel - hopefully not as condensed as last year, and likely to a lot fewer places. Having learned that I work best with crochet and embroidery projects for travel, my first goal will be to prep a project that can travel with me through the year. I have a few larger embroidery projects and a few smaller ones, so lots to choose from. 

Next up is quilting - I have similar goals in that space as I've had for the last few years - continue to quilt on my HQ, reduce the number of UFOs, and keep stash additions to a minimum. I also have a memory quilt to make so want to get that in this year. I haven't even opened the bag with the clothes, so not quite sure what I'll be working with yet. 

On the cross-stitch front, I decided yesterday to join a year-long Stitch-a-Long at stitchingly.com. I had seen it come across my facebook feed a few times, and was looking for another monthly project, so this will fit the bill. I picked a piece of fabric from my stash and had most of the DMC threads on hand too, so it is almost a free project after I purchased the pattern (which will come in 12 monthly segments). I also want to continue to make progress on fully finishing my stitched pieces. I got a good start already, getting one made into a pillow on Jan 1! Hopefully I will have more to show on this front through the year. 

Across all my crafts, I want to continue to try to find 15 minutes a day with one or the other. In 2019, I wound up with 2/3 of the year meeting this goal. For 2020, I want to increase that slightly to 70%. 

Personally, I will continue to work on my physical health through more consistent exercise. I've started using the Map my Ride app to track when I ride, walk, or work out at the gym, and it is a good way to keep myself a little more accountable. I would like to make sure I find at least 90 minutes to exercise 2/3 of the year. 

In addition to the goals at home, I will continue to be busy with Girl Scouts, leading a troop of high-schoolers, and leading the council Alum Network, which we are working to build. I will also have lots of kid's activities to attend and look forward to seeing both kids in the pursuits they enjoy. My husband and I also have a big anniversary in November, so we will be planning a fun trip to celebrate. 

All in all, I am looking forward to a good year and hope that you have a year that allows you to enjoy your hobbies and make progress on your own goals. 

Friday, January 3, 2020

2019 Year in Review

I always struggle a little with how to start my year in review post - it was a great year, wow, what a year, or I can't believe how quickly the year went by! This year really felt like a year of transition for me. I moved to a new position at work early in the year, and our daughter entered high school. I also altered my volunteer activities for Girl Scouts and pushed my troop to lead more on their own. All of the transitions are good ones, but I have certainly felt that my life is changing and my family is changing. I am glad to have had lots to keep my fingers and my mind busy in my varied crafts, and I am really grateful for close family and good friends who have been cheerleader, confidant, and support, especially during my heavy travel period in the last part of the year. 

In our family this year, we moved solidly into teenager years, with my daughter turning 14 and my son 12. They have pretty much completed the migration to spending most of their time either in their own room or with friends. It is quite a difference from the days when they wanted to play or read the same book all day. I am really enjoying have more adult conversations with them and watching them learn and grow their values - I can almost see them beginning to become the adults they will be - and good news is that I like it (most of the time!). As a camp counselor, I always liked working with this age group, and I have to say I like parenting this age children too. We had a Great Eastern Road Trip over the summer that took me to places I'd been before and places I'd never seen and gave us a chance to show our kids more of this country that we live in. 
Bar Harbor, Maine - summer 2019
At work, I dove head-first into a new position and pulled out some skills I hadn't used for a while, but also leveraged learning from my prior roles. The new position has been a good fit for me and I really enjoy it, I like my boss, and I appreciate the way she has let me lead from the front on a major company project. I am learning a lot and certainly enjoyed being able to visit some of the people I've worked with for months or years. 
One of many plane rides in 2019
At home, I've kept myself busy with lots of crafting projects - I will take a minute to recap each: 

1) Crochet - this is one of my newer crafts and I have come to enjoy it. I generally am trying a new stitch or technique on each project I make and like seeing what I can do with some yarn and a crochet hook. I finished 4 items this year - a cowl, 2 blanket squares for a Veteran's Day project, and a scarf. I pick up crochet from time to time and enjoy it when I do. I've also added quite a bit of yarn, so plan to keep working through what I have for some more fun projects. 

2) Scan N'Cut - this one is a new category for this year - although I bought the machine several years ago, each time I used it was a bit of an exercise in frustration. I took a day in December to really learn my machine and I am so glad I did. Now the possibilities seem endless to cut fabric, paper, and vinyl. I am looking forward to playing more with my machine. 

3) Stitching - I will group both cross-stitch and embroidery under this one, although cross-stitch admittedly takes up most of my stitching time. You won't be surprised to hear that I really love stitching - and I have for years. I was thinking back this morning to 20 years ago when we went from 1999 to 2000 and back then, stitching was my only hobby! I have sure grown from those days when I had just one medium sized box of all my supplies! Now I fill several shelves in my craft room and it seems to be expanding. I am really happy with my stitching progress this year - on the embroidery front, I finished two wool embroidery projects and a cotton embroidery project. I found that these travel a lot easier on an airplane than cross-stitch does, so plan to prep a few projects for my upcoming trips. I finished 21 cross-stitch projects this year, with 12 of them being my monthly Lizzie Kate Flip-Its. I really enjoyed having a monthly stitch, especially something easy. I also finished several projects that have been on my "want to stitch" list for a long time. I even did a better job with cross-stitch finishing, completing 16 projects. Many of them were quick and easy finishes, but they count just the same as a harder finish, right? 
2019 Stitching projects
4) Quilting - For the last few years, my quilting time has really been dwindling, and I think it is just a season of life I am going through. I am past the time of making lots of quilts for gifts, so now I am making what I want when I want. I did have two quilts with deadlines this year, and enjoyed making both of them. I had a total of 19 finishes this year - 9 finished quilts (5 UFOs from prior years), 7 bags, 1 pillow top, 1 quilt top (not yet quilted), and 1 table runner. I also quilted a dozen quilts on my longarm. I think that's a pretty successful year and I carry into 2020 the last three items that are unfinished. Like most years, I plan/hope to finish them as soon as possible. 
2019 Quilting Projects
So, now it is time to take stock of my goals for the year and see how I did: 
1) Complete 12 things in 2019 (from this blog post) - I finished 8 out of 12 and made progress on two more - it was a fun list to try for the year and I am glad with the progress I made. I think the one I am most proud of is the quilting of my Santorini Houses quilt, because I'd known for a few years how I wanted to quilt it and finally got the courage - and it worked out as well as I'd hoped in my mind! 
2) Continue to make progress on UFOs, getting to less than 10 by the end of the year - well, I did make progress, finishing 6 from my UFO list, 4 of which were on the UFO Challenge I participated in. I did add 6 new projects that aren't complete, so that took my list back up to 15. Several of the projects are either small or ones I plan to work on at another retreat, so I am optimistic (aren't we all in January?) that I will get several of them done this year. 
3) Fully finish two cross-stitch projects for every new one I start - my success on this all depends on how you count the Lizzie Kate series. I had 7 new starts outside of that, so if you take them as 1 and I had 8 starts, then I just squeaked by with finishing 16 projects. If you count each of the LK Flip-It's as a single start, then I didn't do quite as well. 

Overall, I did have a good year when it comes to my stitching time and stash reports.

On the stash reports, I had another year in the positive (using more stash than I bought). I added 12 1/4 yards of fabric (the smallest amount added since I started tracking in 2010) and used 47 7/8 yards, which is in line with the last few years. I wound up with a stash reduction of 35 5/8 yards! I will continue to work on this in 2020, as lord knows I have more fabric than I know what to do with. I enjoyed joining up with Donna at the end of each month to share my report. 

On the stitching time reports, I joined up with Kate monthly and tracked how many days I did at least 15 minutes of something crafty - could be any of the items mentioned above. I wound up with 237 days where I met the goal, for 67% of the year. I am really happy with that number! 

So, all in all, I would say that 2019 was a good year - family, personal, professional, and craft-wise. I want to thank all of you for stopping by, reading my posts, and especially for leaving a comment from time to time. I keep this blog more for my own records at this point, as the blogging world has sure quieted down since I started my blog in 2008, but I still really enjoy reading about your activities and sharing mine with you. 

I wish you all the best in 2020 and onward we go with more crafting and memories to make!