2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Two week's progress

It really is amazing how much you get done when you spend a little time sewing more often! I finished up a purse project, a couple blocks, and a cross-stitch ornament this week, and I am energized to do some more. 

First up, a new purse! I love making purses and I love how this one turned out. It is the Claire Purse from Lazy Girl Designs. I bought the fat quarters in one of the shops we visit when we go to Shipshewana in the fall with the intent to turn them into a purse. This weekend, I need to turn over from my existing purse to this one. I am excited to use it! 
Second a stitching finish - this one will be made into an ornament. You can see how its meant to be finished on the picture and I'll show you the personalization once it's finished and gifted. I enjoyed this quick stitch to start the year! 
Last up for today are my first two scrap blocks for the rainbow scrap challenge - I made the strips as leader and enders while I was working on the purse, and then put the blocks together last night. I thought the blocks would go together easily, but not so much. You really have to pay attention to the direction of the strip sets when you add the corner triangles. I am hoping to get a better system for upcoming months to make it go a little faster! In looking at the pattern, I also realized that I need to cut some smaller squares for the sashing. Before I start making sashing, I think I will get a few months into the blocks to see how I like the sashing and where I want to place the colors (randomly or next to the blocks of the same color. 
This afternoon, I am settling in with a new cross-stitch project. I hope this will be a quick on and then I can get back to my Snowbelles and get another one done to keep that one moving. I also plan to spend a little time finishing up my third scrap block and find a backing for this month's UFO. Be back soon to show you my progress, or you can keep up in the meantime on Instagram where I am @jenquilter. 

Have a great weekend! 

Linking up with So Scrappy for Scrap Happy Saturday

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2018 Goals

Wow, it's been a cold week here in Central Indiana - it was -8 when I drove to work on Tuesday morning and warmed up to an almost balmy 14 yesterday. The crazy thing is that they say we will be in the 50s by next week! 

So, I have been thinking quite a bit on goals for 2018, and to be honest, I haven't come up with a lot, but given that my best change from 2017 came from a goal/resolution that I didn't even consciously set, I think that's okay! 

So, let's start with the crafting goals: 
1) Continue to work through UFOs - I've again made a list of UFOs to work on, and this year, I used the random number generator to help me create my list! I have 17 quilting UFOs and hope to have 12 or less by year end, which means I also need to make sure that the projects I work on don't become UFOs! I follow both APQ and Judy Laquidara when they choose their number for the month, then look at my list and decide which one I want to work on. For January, I am going to start with #12. 

2) Get back to playing with scraps - I did some scrap blocks a couple years ago and it really didn't even make a dent in my scraps. As all my tubs of scraps are full, as are my tubs of fat quarters, I need to work on getting them down to a more reasonable volume. I am going to make scrap blocks for the quilt in the picture below. It is a pattern that is in my binder of "someday" projects, and I think it will work well with scraps. My plan is to make a few blocks each month (the quilt in the pattern has 30 blocks, so if I average 3 a month, I will have a nice size lap quilt). I am joining Angela the Rainbow Scrap Challenge to keep me motivated to work on this. 
RSC 2018 Pattern and first set of scraps - light blues
3) Do a little more quilting and crochet. There are some sub-goals in this one:
- Try to find at least 15 minutes to quilt at least three days a week (that will equal at least 156 days of quilting in 2018). I'll be following along with Kate at Life in Pieces to see how I do on this goal. 
- Finish 3 or more crochet projects. I'd like to get back to doing a little here and there and working through some of the yarn I've bought and the projects I've marked on Ravelry. 
- Quilt 12 quilts/projects on my HQ. I only quilted 9 in 2018 and my machine went for long stretches with either the same quilt on it or no quilt on it and I'd like to change that this year.  
First quilting done for the year - a panel quilted for my mom! 
I don't feel that I need to set a goal for cross-stitch this year, as I don't seem to have a problem finding time to work on that, and I have about 15 kits ready to go so lots to pull from. 

On the personal front, I want to make some progress on exercise and specifically weight loss. I continue to add a couple pounds a year and I want to put that to a stop. I have a specific goal to lose and keep off at least 5 pounds this year, preferably 8-10. I track my weight in the Lose It app, and I weighed in Jan 1st - it wasn't pretty - so I will be able to track progress throughout the year. 

That's it for the goals - what are you working on in 2018? 

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Year In Review

Wow, it sure seems like 2017 went quickly! We had a good year in our family - a wedding and a new baby for my cousin, a fantastic summer vacation, and (mostly) healthy parents. We've had a good chance to see family, travel together, and travel apart (this one is mostly for me, as it means I go to quilting retreats or to see out of town friends). 

At the start of the year, I set four goals, hoping that by simplifying, I would make good progress on each one, and I have to say I did fairly well. Here are my goals and my progress on them:  

Craft goals: 
1. On the quilting side, I am working again to finish up some UFOs, especially as my list of unfinished projects has gotten longer, so I will again participate in the APQ UFO Challenge and also Judy Laquidara's UFO Challenge. I only have one list, so I will have two numbers to choose from each month :) I'd like to get more than 6 of the 12 completed. Hey - I got 7 projects finished, so I think this one is a big success! I also moved two tops along to "finished top" stage, so overall, I am pretty pleased with this one. 
2. Stitch What I've Bought - I have so many charts, magazines, and a few kits, and I really want to focus this year on stitching things I've already got! I did pretty well on this too, 14 of my 18 completed stitching projects were things that I had at the start of the year. 

Personal goals: 
1) Paint - This falls into the home improvement category. Several items in our home need paint...the exterior, our family room, our remodeled bathroom, and my son's room, and all of these spaces have needed paint for at least 6 months. Some good success here too - we finally painted my son's room and our family room, and I have a contract for painting the exterior of the house (by the time I committed, the weather turned cold, so it will be painted first thing next year). The big one that remains is our new bathroom (now over a year old). Hopefully my husband will feel inspired to work on it soon (he does most of our interior painting). 
2) Get up and Get Out - This continues my goal from last year to swim more. I want to do more exercise from home - walking and biking primarily. I want to get moving more often, even when the weather isn't great. I would say I just did okay on this one - I did get some more walking in and had a spell of several week when Jack and I biked once a week, but there is still progress to be made here, especially in the summer when the weather is nice. 

Now on to the fun stuff - the collage pictures! 

For stitching, I finished 18 projects (!!) and got four of them to the Fully Finished stage. Two of those were gifted over the holidays. Here they are: 
For quilting, I really thought my final numbers would be down this year, but they really aren't. I finished 30 projects, which includes 12 finished quilts (some started in earlier years) and 5 quilt tops. Probably the one surprising stat from 2017 is that I only made two bags. I gifted 11 of my finishes to others. It was fun surprising a few of them too :)  Edited to add that I quilted 9 quilts this year. 

No collage picture for crochet - I finished two projects this year - one hat (dorky picture below!) and a set of curlicue ponytail holders for my daughter and my cousin's step-daughter. (I didn't get a picture of these, but the pattern is here and they look just like it). 

After all this, probably the best change I made last year isn't one that I built into my goals - but on a whim I started it and it has been really good. I stopped taking my iPad upstairs at night during the week, which means that instead of mindlessly flipping through facebook, instagram, or blogs (which I thoroughly enjoy), I've been reading books before bed. I think that I am sleeping better and I know I am going to bed earlier (well, until I get close to the end of a good book!) with this change. It's a small thing, but has made a lot of difference for me. I even kept it up over my 2 week vacation at the end of the year. It also helps me get out of bed earlier in the mornings rather than leaning over "just to take a look." 

I am still thinking on 2018 goals, so I will be back this weekend with an update for you on them! 

November and December Accomplishments and Gift Catch-up

As I shared in my stash report yesterday, I only had one day of sewing in November, but I did have one stitching finish. I started and finished this project over a couple of weeks - it was a quick, easy freebie that I picked up from a shop. I plan to finish it as a roll (we'll see when that happens). 

In December, I had a little more time in the sewing room (11 1/4 hours) as I had a couple gifts to get done. I made this quilt for my Admin Assistant, who retired at the end of the year. I worked on this quilt at both retreats this year and got it quilted and bound just in time to present to her at her retirement lunch. 
Yesterday, you saw the double-zip bag I made my cousin and the fabric I cut to make a new purse. I also did some cross-stitch finishing over the last two weeks - of these three projects, two were gifts (the second one that's a gift is below). The snowman is staying with me and will go out as I pick up the rest of the Christmas items so my house doesn't look so bare! 

On December 31st, I decided I wanted to get a few more things done.  I pulled a project that's been lingering on my cutting table since just before our vacation. It's a hat for me (I made one for my daughter) and it just didn't work right when I sewed it together. It only took me 30 minutes  to figure it out and get it done. Not quite right for this time of year, but I'll be able to wear it in the summer. 
The second finish was cross-stitch - this little ornament from the Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue from last year. I decided to do it in purples instead of teals because I found the purple fabric in a remnant bin. It is a 30 count plum and it was a real pain in the rear to work on. No matter how I held it, it was hard to see the holes. I wound up miscounting and frogging a lot, but got it done around 10:30 last night! 
My other cross stitch finish for December was one section of the Lizzie Kate Snowbelles pattern. I am stitching all 6 leaflets together in one piece, so stitching them a bit at a time (it's a lot of white!). I was happy to get the Ice Queen done, and I will get back to it soon to work on the next section. 
Wait, I almost forgot - I had a third cross-stitch finish - this is the 2008 Collector's heart from Heart in Hand - I changed the year to reflect when I stitched it. 
I also have a little catching up to do on secret/gift projects over the past few months, as the gifts have all been given now. 

First, I altered the Mill Hill Scottish Santa to make him look like Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series, and he was a birthday present for my stitching and Outlander buddy Beth. I like how he turned out with his red hair :) 
Second, the baby quilt for my cousin, which was gifted at her shower in October. I worked on this in September and now it is in use for her new baby girl. I've been lucky enough to see her twice since she was born in early November, and she's a cutie! 
Third, Happily Ever After, a wedding cube for the same cousin, who was married earlier in the year. This is a Heart in Hand design and stitched on 30 ct. Parchment. I am really pleased with the way it turned out. I gave it to them for Christmas. 
That's all to wrap up the monthly reports - be back soon with a year in review and plans for 2018! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Stash Report Wrap-up

I skipped the stash report in November, because I spent only one day in the sewing room - it was a crazy month! I did use some stash on that day, as I was making a back for a quilt that is now finished and gifted. In December, I switched to a new assignment at work (same team, same position, but supporting a new group of people) and it really consumed me for the first half of the month, so I had little sewing time. Luckily, my company has "use-it-or-lose-it" vacation, so I was off work on the 18th for the remainder of the year and got a little more sewing done during my break. 

I made a couple fabric cubes for cross stitch projects that I finished this year (and one from 2016!), I bound the quilt mentioned above, and I made a double zip bag for a Christmas present. Have you seen these bags yet? They are cute and it was relatively easy to make. 
The last thing I did with stash was cutting out all the pieces to make a new purse. This will become the Lazy Girl Claire purse. I've made this before and it was one of my favorites. 
So, I didn't add any stash in November or December and I used 4 7/8 yards. That helps my year end totals: 

Added for the year: 16 1/8 yards (the smallest amount I've added since I started tracking in 2010)
Used for the year: 48 5/8 yards (also the smallest amount I've used since I started tracking)
Net Used for 2018: 32 1/2 yards (my second worst usage year by total yards)

I was inspired by Kate at Life in Pieces to do a little graph of my fabric usage over time. 
You can see that my volume has gone markedly down since the early years. I was finishing a lot of Lois' UFOs those first few years, so had some good usage. In 2015, I went through stash and donated around 80 yards to our quilt guild. There isn't much a difference in the piles in the basement even with that donation, but it did fill 100 mystery bags that were used to raise money for the guild. I am glad to have some of that older fabric - and a lot of fabric that just isn't my style - out of the stash.  

Over 8 years, I've used just under 800 yards, brought in just over 280 yards, for a net stash reduction of 511 yards. Overall, I am pretty pleased with those numbers. Wow - that's a lot of fabric! 

Hope you had a fun year with your fabric, whether you track usage or not. I think I can say pretty safely that it helps me from going crazy when I see things I like. My goal for next year is to keep the fabric added numbers around the same, but increase fabric used - it would be great to get back in the eighties for amount used.  

I am linking up my year end stash report with quiltpaintcreate

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fall Recipes

Well, right after I wrote last time about recipes and said we really weren't trying many new ones, I took off again, thanks mostly to Cooking Light. I caught up on some magazine reading and found a couple things to try right away. So, here we go...lots of recipes in the last few months: 

Black Pepper-Curry Chicken Saute from Cooking Light - not surprisingly, this was too spicy for the kids, but Mike and I liked it. I will tuck this recipe away for us to have in coming years when the kids are out with friends or off at camp. 

BLT Pasta from Cooking Light - I really wanted to like this one more than I did. The flavor just didn't knock my socks off. This is one I will probably toss as we have so many other great pasta dishes we've found. 

Chicken and Butternut Gnocchi from Cooking Light - the kids took one look at this meal and decided they weren't going to like it, so it was a bust with the family. I found the flavor to be good with the little bit of pesto cooked in. It makes a huge amount, so this will go to the very back of the recipe folder to be pulled out for a pitch-in or other shared dish event where I can have a few servings. 

Hearty Soup - this came from a bagged mix I bought at the Amish market in Shipshewana while on my retreat. You add some beef, tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage. We really liked this soup and it will become a staple for cold weekends (along with the several other soup recipes we've found and liked). 

Herb Roasted Chicken from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook - I really should have taken a picture when it was still in the roasting pan...but I forgot. You roast veggies with the chicken and it was a great and easy dinner we had with friends. All the kids approved, except for the roasted beets! 

Kicky Black Bean Burgers from Cooking Light - Jack kept asking what kind of meat was in them because he didn't believe they were vegetarian. We all enjoyed them and we'll make them again. 

Lasagna Rolls from Giada's Family Dinners cookbook - These were great and we will make them again. The recipe takes some time, so definitely a weekend recipe vs. weeknight, but well worth the time investment. 

Lemon Cloud Pie from a Pillbury recipe card - I made this for a dinner with friends and it was a hit - even better, there were leftovers, so the kids and Mike all got a piece too. Thumbs up all around! 

Perfectly Easy Dinner Rolls - I decided on Thanksgiving morning that I'd try making the rolls this year. This is from a recipe card my mother-in-law gave me and it has her notes on it, but we aren't sure if this is her "famous" roll recipe. I was so happy they turned out well and every single one was eaten at dinner! 

Pesto Chicken with Blistered Tomatoes from Cooking Light - I don't think it's any secret that I love pesto, so this recipe jumped right out at my when I was reading the magazine, and it didn't disappoint. That crunch of panko breadcrumbs on top of the pesto was perfect! I could take or leave the tomatoes, but the chicken will be made again.  

Quick Mongolian Beef Stir-fry from Cooking Light - We have another mongolian beef recipe that we like, but it takes planning ahead and the crock pot. This one was quick and not quite as satisfying, but still had good flavor. We left out the red peppers and added some mushrooms instead. I am a little torn on whether to keep this recipe, but I think we'll try it again before making a call. 

Seared Salmon with Blistered Tomatoes from Cooking Light - I am always looking for a few different ways to cook salmon, and this was a great one! In this recipe, I really liked the mix of fish and tomato, and look forward to having this again. 

Sesame Broccoli from Cooking Light - I thought we'd try a few side dishes to liven up our normal sides of frozen veggies. This was yummy - and we will definitely make it again. 

Shortcut Shrimp Paella - I love to find quick and easy shrimp meals, and this one was a hit. Again, we left our red pepper and didn't miss it. This is another one that we'll make again soon. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros - Kate from Life in Pieces shared this recipe with me and it was absolutely delicious. We all liked the great flavor from the chicken and Mike and I slathered on the sauce too. This also made for good leftovers over a salad. Thanks Kate - this one's a keeper! 

Tomatillo Sauce and Tomatillo Chicken Stew from Simply Recipes - another recipe recommended by a friend for my great tomatillo harvest. I've tried for three years to grow tomatillos and was finally successful this year. The green sauce could have been a little spicier (next time, I will add a few more jalepeno seeds). The stew was great and we gobbled it all up. 

Upside-down Shepherd's Pie from Cooking Light - I've always loved Shepherd's Pie, but we haven't had it in years because of the effort it takes to make it all come together. This one was fantastic and made easy by using frozen mashed potatoes (which were great, by the way). We will definitely put this one into the rotation. 

Waffle Iron Hash Browns from Cooking Light - Another great side dish. We decided to put the waffle iron in the goodwill pile after making this because it just doesn't get as hot as we need it to anymore, so we will be adding a new waffle iron. We really liked this different side dish and look forward to trying it again and getting it a little crispier. 

Whew, that's a lot of recipes and a lot of successes. As I copied over the pictures to my "Cooking" folder on the computer, I noticed that we've now passed the 200 mark - wow, 200 new recipes that we've tried and it continues to be fun, so we'll march on towards 250! Hope you've found one or two to try from following our adventures! 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

October 2017 Retreat/Stash/Accomplishments

I can't believe November is almost over and I haven't yet told you about my great retreat in October! That's what happens when you're booked every weekend. 

I did a little prep in early October, but my month of sewing (almost) every day in September really paid off as I was ready to go by the time retreat arrived. I packed my bags and headed out on a Wednesday morning in mid-October. We go to Shipshewana, Indiana - the heart of Amish and RV construction country! We had a little smaller group this year, but still had a great time, and it was good to see friends that we only see a couple times a year, especially Debbie and Hannah who have moved in the last year. 

I took lots of projects and am happy to say that I worked a little on everything. Here are some pictures of what I got done: 
- Added binding to the Kaleidoscope quilt, one of my UFOs for the year. I quilted it just before retreat, so it was great to have a finish while there! I used the quiet time during introductions to sew down the hanging sleeve, so it was ready to hang up in my living room when I arrived home. The colors don't match my house at all, but I love the bright colors in this quilt. 

- Made a Mondo bag - for this bag, you have to have 208 squares cut (which I had done over time and finished up just before retreat), and then you fuse them onto an interfacing. After that, you sew lots of rows, then the columns, and it all works out pretty well. This was a fun bag to make and I've already used it twice - it's the perfect size for an overnight trip. 

- Fused, appliqued, quilted, and bound this summer wall hanging. I bought this back in January with the intent to make it for a Christmas gift, and I am so glad it is ready to go! 

- Made a few selvage ornaments. This was our group's challenge for this year - make something with your scraps. I could also count the Mondo bag, but I'd been planning for that a while. I decided it was high time to use some of the selvages that I save. As you can imagine, this didn't even make a dent in my box of selvages, but aren't they cute? 

- Finished the top that I started at retreat back in May. I brought this home and it only needed borders. I figured I'd finish it by the end of the month. Wrong! I hadn't touched it since getting home from that retreat, so it came back to this one with me. I got the top done and was able to find some fabric from the same line for binding. My plan is to get this one quilted soon as I plan to gift it before the end of the year. 

- Paper piecing border blocks. I have had this project in my bag for several retreats and it has come and gone without being touched. After finishing up my blue and purple paper pieced top in September, I got the bug to work on this again. I still have several border sections to go, but at least I made some progress. 

- Finished the rows and put together the top for this french braid quilt. I've used this as my leader/ender project for several retreats and have only worked on it at retreats. I was so happy to get it done and into a finished top. My daughter loves it, so it may become a new bed quilt for her. 

- Last up, I started the little candle mat kit that I picked up in September. I still have borders and some hand embroidery to go on this one, so I will show a picture when it is closer to done. 

Whew - that was a busy retreat! In between all that sewing, I also enjoyed time with friends, shopping, eating, and walking around town. We also met a brand new quilter and helped her get going in her quilting journey. It was really fun to experience the fun of the craft through a new quilter's eyes. 

So, that's the rundown for the month. I didn't touch anything else in the sewing room the rest of the month, and I've only been down to the basement (my sewing room) once or twice since I got home. I did get some stitching done, but will save that for another post. 

The result for the stash report was pretty good. I did add some fabric - a small kit, fat quarters for a purse and just because, and binding for the top I finished above. I also used quite a bit of fabric as I got all that stuff up there done! 

Fabric added this month: 3 1/4 yards
Fabric used this month: 4 1/8 yards

Fabric added year to date: 16 1/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 43 3/4 yards

Net fabric used: 27 5/8 yards

Hope your fall is going well and look forward to seeing what you've been up to!