2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Recipes from winter into spring

We've had some good luck (and a couple duds) with our cooking endeavors over the last few months. I managed to catch up on all my Cooking Light magazines, so had lots of new recipes pulled to try right away. Here's the rundown. 

Jenna (with long hair - she just got 10" cut off and looks very different now!) holding Spicy Chicken Shawarma from Cooking Light. This was a hit with all of us and we will surely make it again. It is nice for an night you don't want to do much cooking. 

Another Mr. Food recipe and it was good - Chicken Tortilla Cake. You layer chicken, tortillas, cheese and probably a few other things and bake it all together, and then "frost" it with sour cream. It was quite good and we gobbled it up! Anytime you have some leftover shredded chicken, this would be a great recipe to try. 

If you've been reading for a while, you may know that I love coconut. I've mostly used it in desserts, so when I saw this recipe, I was excited to try it. The Coconut Chicken Strips from Cooking Light turned out great. You use unsweetened coconut. We didn't make the sauce in the recipe, as it was a spicy one, and it would benefit from having one. We'll have to experiment a bit - if you have any ideas for a good sauce to dip these in, please let me know. 
 I picked the Creamy Chicken Alfredo recipe just for Mike, as he loves Alfredo. The picture looks a little bland as we forgot to add the parsley, but the taste was good. Even Jenna who swears that she doesn't like any sauce, liked this one. It is an easy weeknight meal ready in about 30 minutes. I don't have a recipe link for this one as it is on a card labeled "Comfort Food." It was and we approve! If you'd like the recipe, just let me know and I will send it your way. 
The next recipe was an awesome one - and the best kind, one from a friend! She made this for our mini-retreat in March and I came home and made it again! It is called Lasagna Soup and includes pasta, mushrooms, and italian sausage in a tomato base. It was sooo good and we will be making this often next winter! No need for soups as we head into the summer! This recipe is pretty close to the one I had. 
The next yummy recipe was Meatball Stroganoff, also from Cooking Light. It was a great alternative to beef stroganoff and I think we'll make this one again. The flavor of the sauce was really nice. 
Now that we've been through the good recipes, we will move on to those that weren't quite as good....

Let's start with Hamburger Steak with Onion Gravy, another one from Cooking Light. I thought these looked and sounded good in the magazine and I thought Mike would really like them. In the end, the sauce was a gluey mess and the hamburgers weren't even as good as what we would usually make (and you buy ground sirloin for these). This recipe will wind up the in the recycling bin. 

Next up was a recipe that I originally intended to make just for me. I decided that the kids could try these too - Hummus and Rice Fritters with Mediterranean Salad. The fritters were just ok...the texture was a little weird between the rice and hummus, but the lemon vinaigrette salad dressing was delicious! We will save the recipe even if just for that! I think I will keep this one and I might try it again with a flavored hummus to see if that is better. I will definitely pull out the dressing recipe again! 
 The last one for this set of recipes is one from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I got a deal on ground turkey and then went looking for a recipe to make with it. I was excited about these Turkey and Broccoli Lasagna Rolls. They wound up quite dry and the sauce wasn't as saucy as it should have been. I don't mind some veggies in my lasagna, but now I see why beef or Italian sausage is the preferred filling - I think the extra fat helps with the overall flavor. 
So you can see we were about 50/50 this time. I continue to pull out recipes and we will keep trying some new ones as well as going back to those we enjoy. Hope you've seen something here that you'd like to try! 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

April in Review

The weather this April was a little crazy - we had snow almost every weekend until we got to the end of the month. I didn't mind and it made for some good sewing and stitching time. 

I started the month working on my scrap blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. The colors this month were gold and bright yellows. I had fun digging through to get 1 gold block and 2 yellow ones. I really like how the yellow ones turned out. 

On the longarm, I had a productive month. I started with Polar Play, the quilt that I finished at retreat in March. Rather than let that become a UFO, I put it right on the frame. I enjoyed quilting on the cuddle/minkee backing and also enjoyed the Glide thread that I used. I've heard lots of good things about Glide, and I must say it lived up to them. Not much thread breakage, nice tension, and it melts into the quilt top quite nicely. 

Once I got that quilt done, I pulled one of my UFOs - a baby quilt that I made up during my year of the kits a few years ago. I've been waiting for the right baby to come along to get it quilted. One of the girls in my Girl Scout troop has a new baby brother, and her stepmom has been a great help to the troop, so I decided to quilt it up for him. I got the quilting done and the quilt trimmed by the end of the month, so now it is waiting for binding, which should go on within the week. I'll share a picture once it's fully finished. 

Both of those projects helped with the stash usage - two backs makes for some good numbers. I also made up a few more pet beds to donate to the humane society. I put all my scraps of fabric and batting in them and then sew them up like a pillowcase. It is a good way to recycle/reuse my scraps instead of putting them in the trash. 

Here's the stash report: 
Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 4 7/8 yards

Fabric added year to date: 9 3/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 16 yards
Net fabric used: 6 5/8 yards

And here's the stitching time report: 
2/4 weeks with at least 3 days of sewing/quilting per week
9 days of sewing/quilting time
8 3/4 hours  of sewing/quilting time 

On the stitching front, I worked finished up one of the Year In Chalk projects - Hello Spring. I have a couple more to do and hope to finish it in a way that I can swap them out. I really found it tough to work on the dark linen, and found I could only work on this during the day. I had a couple other projects that occupied my time in the evenings. 
The last finish for the month is one of those other projects - an embroidery towel that I've had for a long, long time. I bought it at The Back Door several years ago and prepped it to stitch last year, but then didn't touch it. I worked on this while I watched the Amazon Prime series "Howard's End." Four episodes and a little extra stitching time was perfect to finish this up. The backing is water soluble, so I need to soak it for that to dissolve and then I will stick it in the box with the Halloween decorations. 

I also had some fun with my Girl Scout troop in April with a sleep over and a workshop to prep for their Silver Award projects, and I tried to get a little more exercise into the weekly routine. Hope you had a nice month. I'll be back soon with some more recipes to share, as we've been continuing to try new things! 

Linking up with:
Angela for the RSC 2018 challenge
Kate for the 15 minutes a day challenge
Donna for the stash reporting

Sunday, April 1, 2018

March 2018 Round-up

As I shared in my last post, March was a pretty busy month. Good thing that one of the trips was quilt related so I have some good stats for the month :) I'll start with accomplishments, then stash report and stitching time. 

I got quite a bit done this month, thanks again to retreat time! I shared on my last post the projects that I worked on at retreat. I kept going when I got home (after the third trip) and finished up my rainbow scrap challenge blocks for March in bright greens. I figured out how to chain piece them correctly this time and didn't make the mistakes I'd made in the last two months, so they were more fun to make! I really love the fabrics that are in these - lots of great memories in those scraps, and some of my favorite fabrics. 
After I got those complete for the month, I knew I wanted to quilt something. I debated between working on a UFO or one of my just-finished tops from retreat. In the end, I decided to do one of the recent ones to avoid a new UFO! I got the table runner loaded, quilted, and bound in the last few days and I can't wait to use it next Christmas. 
Upstairs on the couch, I kept going on my Lizzie Kate Snowbelles and got the third section of the sampler done - Frosty Friends. I had a good time stitching this one and will plow ahead with the next in this series after I take a short break for some stitching that is more seasonally appropriate (even though we are supposed to get 1-3" of snow this evening!!!). 
I also spent some time working on a wool embroidery piece that has been around for a long, long time. I cut it out at a retreat at least 3 years ago and slowly worked on it from time to time. Before I'd let myself kit up a new cross stitch project, I decided to finish it up. I am pretty pleased with it and glad to have another kit finished! I probably bought this one ~8-10 years ago. 

So, on to the stash report - my goal was to get back into positive numbers this month and I did that thanks to getting the Polar Pals kit put together. It is also nice to finish the most recent kit I bought right away. I did add a little fabric at retreat - the binding for mini-spools and some white on white fat quarters to boost my supply for the Rainbow Scrap challenge. I wound up cutting out 15 sets of the white on white, so am able to count some of that fabric as used right away. 

Fabric added this month: 1 1/2 yards
Fabric used this month: 9 3/8 yards

Fabric added year to date: 9 3/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 11 1/8 yards

Net fabric used: 1 3/4 yards - yeah, back in the black! 

For stitching time, I took some hand work with me on both non-quilting trips, but barely got to it, so I only met my goal of sewing 3 days/week for half the month. I had a total of 10 stitching days out of 31 (the same as last month!). I had a total of 31 hours of quilting time, with most of it at retreat. 

Hope you had a nice March and Happy Easter to all who are celebrating today. 

Linking up with:
Angela at SoScrappy for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge
Kate at Life in Pieces for the 15 minutes a day challenge
Donna at QuiltPaintCreate for Stash Report Sunday

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Triple Trip March

March 2018 sure has been busy for me! I have been out of state three times (so far!) and had some good trips. 

First up was a work trip to Boston. I was there for two nights for a meeting and all went well. It is nice to be back in the city where I've spent several short weeks over the last three years. I am handing off my responsibilities there to someone else, so this is my last Boston trip for a while. I didn't get any good pictures while there, but I did have some awesome cannoli! If you're in Boston, make sure you stop by Mike's Pastry - we tried three different kinds and they didn't disappoint! 

After that, I had a quick turn-around before I headed over to Threads of Time Quilt Shop and Retreat center with my mom to meet a couple friends for a quick long weekend retreat. We wound up in the Parlor, which is a room for a small group. At the start of the weekend, we didn't know if we'd like it, but it turned out great! I got everything that I took finished! I don't think that ever happens, so I was really happy. Here are the projects I worked on: 
Made the binding for UFO #8
Mini Spools by Thimbleberries with Lucy's Crab Shack fabric, quilted with Aurifil thread - all done!

Polar pals finished top
Finished borders for UFO #1
Topsy turvy Trees table runner
Back to work for a few days after the return from retreat, and then we packed up our ski stuff and headed north to Michigan to teach the kids to ski. We originally planned to head out west, but with the iffy snow there this year and good snow in the Midwest, we opted for a driving trip and it turned out great. 
Checking out the mountain on the night we arrived.
The snow was just about perfect and temps were in the 30's each day. We skiied at Boyne Mountain and Nub's Nob and had great experiences at both (although I am a little partial to Nub's), and the kids took to skis like fish to water. The first run was tough, but they kept at it, took some lessons, and learned to fly down the mountain. Skiing is a sport I love and I was so glad to introduce my kids to it and even more glad that they love it as much (or maybe even more) as I do! 
Top of the hill! Me with the kids :) 
March still has another week in it and I am hoping to get a cross-stitch finish and some quilting in so that I have something new to share with you by the end of the month. See you back here in another week or so! 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

February 2018 Accomplishments and Stash Report

Wow, where did February go? Oh, right, to the Olympics! I spent a lot of time watching and enjoying the Olympics, and didn't spend that much time sewing. Even so, I did get a few things done. 

I pulled out my UFO #9 and decided to start making some more blocks. It is a Thangles Buck-a-Block from 2008! I diligently made the blocks way back when, and then put them away as I had decided not to buy the finishing kit. I knew when I pulled it out that 12 blocks wouldn't be enough to really make anything with, so I started making opposite color blocks. I had a good time, was reminded how many darn steps there are in making blocks with Thangles, and taught both kids how to carefully pull off the paper! In the end (today actually), I got 9 more blocks made before I ran out of fabric, and here they are on my design wall. I don't quite know what to do next, so I think I will take them to  my mini-retreat next week and see if my friends have some ideas. I have plenty of batik fabrics I can use with them, but just need some ideas on how to set them. I'd like to wind up with a nice sized lap quilt. 
At the same time as I was working on the Thangles, I was also getting my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks for February done. I posted about them last weekend and you can see the pictures here

I also did some handwork during the Olympics, and got my hand embroidery done on my Valentine's candle mat. I got it quilted and bound just in the nick of time before the end of the month. This one, being a very small quilt, got straight line quilting on my regular machine. 
Last up in the quilting department is a top I quilted for my mom. It was an easy quilt job after last month's custom quilting. 
In the cross-stitch department, I finished up my Topsy Turvy Bunnies from Val's Stuff. I got this pattern in the sale room at my Local Needlework Shop, Persnickety Stitchers, last year. It's nice to get it stitched up quickly! I used all kinds of substitute thread in this one, from DMC to Weeks Dye Works to Splendor Silks. I like the way it turned out and I will probably finish it into a little cube. 
For the stash report, I took a little hit because I did some SuperBowl sale shopping - both at the Needlework shop and the quilt shop! I went big an bought a new kit with a Minkee back at the quilt shop. I can't wait to make this one and cuddle underneath it! 
Quilt Shop Purchases
Fabric added this month: 7 7/8 yards
Fabric used this month: 5/8 yard

Fabric added year to date: 7 7/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 1 3/4 yards

Net fabric added: 6 1/8 yards (I better get working on a few backs to turn that number around!)

And in the challenge to find 15 minutes a day, I was successful about half the month (before and after the Olympics!) in finding three days/week to sew. For the whole month, I had 10 days where I spent time in my sewing room for a total of 13 1/4 hours of sewing. 

Hope you had a nice February and have some fun plans for March (I do!)....more to come in the weeks ahead!  

Linking up with:
Judy's UFO Challenge
Donna's Stash Report Sunday
Kate's 15-Minutes a Day

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A mostly purple weekend

I was glad to have some good sewing time this weekend in between the Pinewood Derby, a night with friends, and a mountain of laundry! I was able to spend a couple hours each day in my sewing room and moved forward a couple projects. 

First up, my blocks for February for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I made three blocks again this month and messed up the piecing of one of them again this month! The good news is that I had a few extra strip sets, so it didn't set me back too much. As I cut my scraps, I realized that I had a lot of string left over, so I decided to make a string block as a leader/ender. I made string blocks a few years ago, and they are patiently waiting for more blocks, so I may continue this over the coming months. 
Purple Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks
Bonus string block
After finishing the blocks last month, I did get a little cutting for the sashing done. As I went back and looked at the directions again this month, I realized I needed one 2" square and 8 smaller squares and I'd only cut the smaller squares. The good news is that my blue scraps were still handy, so I cut out my purple and the remaining blue cornerstone pieces. I won't be using these until I am ready to put the quilt together (probably next year), but I am glad to cut them when I already have my scraps out! 
 Today, I worked on my UFO for the month. I signed up for a buck-a-block way back in 2008 (when I had a baby!) and made the blocks, but then they got put away because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them. I pulled them out again at the start of this month and decided I would make the opposite blocks (dark where there was light before) and see how far I could get. As of this afternoon, I have 6 blocks duplicated and the fabric prepped to make a few more. I don't have enough fabric to make all of them in duplicate, so I will have to play with the setting to decide how I want to finish this. It's been fun to work on these blocks again, and now I've taught the baby (who is going to turn 11 this week!!!) how to pull the paper off the back. It's nice to have help :) 

Last week I had some super early meetings, so between that and the Olympics being on, I didn't get down to sew at all during the week. This week shouldn't be quite as early, so I am hoping to get back to the sewing room mid-week to make some more progress on this UFO. I won't finish it by the end of this month, but I think I will bring it to my retreat so I can start thinking about how to finish it. 

Hope you had a nice weekend with some time to do just what you wanted! 

Linking up with Angela at So Scrappy for Scraphappy Saturday

Monday, February 12, 2018

Winter 2018 Recipes

Last year, I started spacing out the sharing of recipes because we were in a little bit of a "rut." When I say rut, I mean nothing like when we started this challenge and had about 10 different meals that we rotated, but I wasn't finding many new recipes to try. I guess I got kick-started over the holidays, because I have a lot to share. 

I'll start with a few bombs. It isn't often that a recipe totally bombs in our house, but we had two in a row! 

The first one is from Midwest Living, called Sheet-Pan Sausage and Fall Vegetables. we really enjoy sausage, so I was looking for a different way to cook it. This one looked good, but the flavors just didn't do a thing for us. We'll be putting our sausage on the grill next time. 

The second bomb was Maui Beef on Coconut Rice from our Trader Joe's Cookbook. I had never cooked short ribs before, followed the recipe and they looked great. I cut into the first one and it was almost raw! Ewww! We put them back under the broiler for a bit, but they never got quite done enough for our taste. About the only part of this recipe that we liked was the coconut rice. They might look pretty on the plate, but we won't be making this one again! 

Things looked up from there - here are the remaining recipes we've tried lately, in no particular order. 

Beef & Noodles - for those of you who cross-stitch, you probably know of Vonna, the Twisted Stitcher. She posted her menu for the week on facebook and had this on it. She was generous to share the recipe - we tried it last week and it was great. Even better on the second day when the noodles really absorbed the sauce. Keep an eye on her website to see if she adds the recipe there. 

A fairly easy weeknight meal in this Campbell's Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pie. I cut this one out of a magazine years ago (the ad on the back says the offer is good if you respond before Nov 15, 1997!), so this one's been percolating a long time. It was a great and pretty easy chicken pot pie. I didn't find the exact recipe, but there are several that look close from this google search. Ours called for Bisquick for the topping. 
Mmmm, crusty, crunchy Hellman's Parmesan Crusted Chicken from the Quilter's Cookbook gifted to me by my friend Kathy. There's something about that layer of mayo and the crunch of the bread crumbs. We loved this! 
 This one is an old standby for us, but I am not sure I've shared it before. It is a made up recipe, although originally it may have been in the Trader Joe's flyer. It is lemon pepper pasta with tuna in oil and capers. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and add some more pepper and this is a hit in our house. It is also a super easy meal to make! 
 This one didn't photograph well (but you can see the bunny from Jenna's plate peeking out), but it tasted great. It is Mexican Crock Pot chicken. We shredded the chicken after this picture and loaded it into corn tortillas with the beans and salsa on top and it was lick-your-fingers yummy. 
 Another super yummy dish here - Mexican Lasagna from one of my favorite cookbooks - Fix it and Enjoy it. With corn tortillas, salsa, and beans instead of regular lasagna ingredients, it was a hit. I gobbled up all the leftovers before anyone else could get them!
Another Quilter's Cookbook recipe - Oven Fried Fish. This had good texture, but I think we picked the wrong fish. We'll try this again with something a little thicker. 
 Here's another quick and easy one that was shared by a friend - Pork Chops in Mushroom sauce. I'll share the recipe for this one - place chops in bottom of a glass pan, cover with 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1/2 can water, and onion soup mix. Add extra mushrooms to the top if desired. Bake for 45 minutes at 325. This one was a nice pork chop recipe, but was a little salty for me. We did enjoy putting the extra sauce on the rice though. 
This one was advertised as a 15-minute meal by Rachael Ray. My husband, who  made this, said it was more than 30 minutes. I think it was worth every minute for this Skillet Tamale Pie, made with polenta, which was tasty. 
 Jack's plate gets a cameo in this one - good thing I took the picture quickly, because he devoured these Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas from the Quilter's Cookbook. I am a sucker for sour cream enchiladas, and the only disappointment in these is that there weren't any left for lunch the next day! 
Our last dinner meal - and one of the most recent too - South of the Border Pie - a nice vegetarian dish from the Better Homes and Garden's cookbook. We forgot to put the salsa in the pie, but topped it when we ate it and the flavor was great. 
Whew, after all those dinners, it's time for dessert! My mom cooked dinner on Christmas night, so I made dessert. This recipe for Holiday Chocolate Mint Bars came from a magazine that also has a 1997 date on it! It was a very thick bar - a lot like a Texas sheet cake - with a nice layer of mint below the chocolate on top. It was sinfully rich, but delicious! 
Hope you enjoyed this little trip through our kitchen and found something that looks good to try! Oh, and don't worry, I know winter isn't over yet! We still have a few new recipes to try in the next couple weeks. I'll try not to wait to long to share the next set.