2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Mid-Year Book Report

Last year, I had a goal to read 10 books to get me back in the habit of reading regularly - I ended the year with 19 books read and I have continued going into 2020. The biggest "support" to my reading time has been leaving all devices downstairs at night. When I go up to go to bed, I read almost every night, and now with much more time at home on the weekends, I've also enjoyed some good weekend afternoon reading. I've already read 11 books this year, so I thought I'd do a quick post to share the list and my thoughts. I've found so many of these books from other's blog posts that I hope this post will spark someone else's interest. 

I'll start first with my favorite book of the first half of the year, and then go through them in the order I read them. 

We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter - I know I am late to the part of this book which was released in 2017, but I am so glad I didn't let that stop me! This book follows a Jewish family from Poland through World War 2. I loved the details the author shared of the situations, the things people saw and lived through, and the emotions from each character. I read the whole book on edge but loved every minute of it. If you haven't read this one, I highly recommend it - 5 stars. 

Now, from early in the year to earlier this week: 

The Language of Silence by Peggy Webb - I picked up this book in the library because it caught my eye and the premise looked interesting. It follows a woman who decides to leave her abusive husband when she learns she is pregnant. She runs to the circus and gets a job as a teacher for the circus children. It was very interesting to read about the circus behind the scenes and to understand the fear someone lives in when they've run away from danger.  

The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner - I wandered around the autobiography section one day and found this intriguing book about a woman who starts to play bridge with her mom's group. She learns so much about her mom and the close friends her mom has met with weekly for years. I loved this one because it makes me think so much about the friends I've made in quilting - all of them old enough to be my own mom, but women who have become close friends despite the difference of age. This isn's a gripping tale, but is a lovely story of female maturity and friendships. 

All I've Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin - this author is a pretty big name and I think I've read a few other books of hers, so when I saw this on the new releases at the library, I picked it up. This story is about how a mother deals with the aftermath of a poor decision her son makes involving social media. She explores her own values, the way she is living, and the impact on the other person. It was an enjoyable read based on a fear I think just about any teenage mom has these days about her child making bad choices that quickly become very public. 

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis - I really enjoyed this book that came as a recommendation from someone else's blog (sorry, I can't remember who!). It is another female-centered story flipping between two times zones - the roaring 20s and the late 70s - both set in New York's Grand Central Station. I almost always enjoy books that flip back and forth like this and there was a mystery at the center of this one that I didn't figure out until it was revealed. 
The Masterpiece: A Novel by [Fiona Davis]

Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee - When your teenage daughter comes home raving about a book she's read for school and asks if you want to read it, you say yes! This play has been around for many years and the book is the play - it's been a while since I read a play, but enjoyed the different format. The play follows the Scopes Monkey Trial where a teacher is brought to court for teaching evolution. It had a lot of similarities to our current days in the US with people vehemently defending one side of an argument any very few people in the middle. The book was short and I finished it over a couple days, then enjoyed talking with my daughter about it. 

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes - I picked up this book and the next two on the day before the library closed - I've read and enjoyed Jojo Moyes books before. This one was short stories and I liked being able to read a story a night in this one.  

All the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio - Another book set in WWII, this time in Paris and centered around a young mother and her father, who run a flower shop. The freedoms of her life slip away one at a time until a tragic day. This was another gripping and emotional story and it will stay with me for a while - the WWII stories get me every time. I think this one is just behind the first as one of my favorites so far this year. 

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer - This was sure an ironic title to pick up just before everything closed down for a month! The book caught my eye as I wandered the aisles and I am glad to have picked it up. It was a series of short stories by a young, African American author. Her stories were mostly set in the inner city, and several dealt with topics that aren't ones I usually read about. I really enjoyed the different perspective. 

Intentional Living by John Maxwell - I was given this book at the leadership training I went to last fall. Each group had a "sponsor" and at the end of the week, they shared a book that has been influential to them in their leadership journey. John Maxwell is an internationally known motivational/leadership speaker and he shared here his story of figuring out how that was what he wanted to do. I struggled with this book, especially given the current time. While there were a few interesting ideas, I didn't really take many lessons from it, and in fact, felt that his professed values and his actions didn't always match. I appreciate the leader who shared this and also appreciate that I learned it wasn't for me. 

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center - I read about this book more recently and it sounded really interesting - a female fire-fighter relocates from the city where she grew up to the northeast to care for her mother when she is having some health issues. She goes from a very progressive and diverse firehouse to being the only woman in a firehouse that doesn't really welcome her. Meanwhile, she is trying to figure out how to co-exist with her mom, from whom she's been distant for many years. Like most of the other books I've read this year, I found this really enjoyable. One of the storylines was very predictable, but it didn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the book. 

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy - I never did read Anne of Green Gables as a girl, but I did watch part of the series on Netflix and really enjoyed it (maybe one of these days I will go back and finish it!), so it was a little surprising to me that I picked up this book! I enjoyed the backstory of Marilla Cuthbert and loved the descriptions of the beautiful setting of Green Gables.  The author picked up just a few clues about Marilla's past from the original series and created this very interesting story of how Marilla came to the point right before Anne of Green Gables starts. The book does have me thinking about finally exploring the original series! Marilla of Green Gables: A Novel

Hope you find one or two books in the list that interest you - I have gotten almost all of them from my local library and encourage you to use your library as well, or support an independent bookstore. They are few and far between these days and could certainly use our support - I think I may have to head over and do some shopping at one soon! 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

June 2020

It is hard to believe that the end of June marks the end of the first half of the year. June saw the end of school and the start of summer camp for our kids - it is one of the few camps that is still open and the first two weeks called for kids to wear masks. They will go back to masks this week as well, as cases here are on the rise a bit. The kids have really benefited from time outside and with other people and so far, thankfully, they have both stayed healthy. The warmer days mean shorter or earlier walks but we are still doing our best to get outside with Grace and get some exercise. We did venture out for our first few meals in a restaurant this month - one with an outdoor patio and half as many tables. It was nice to be out, but none of us are feeling the pull to go many more places. 
Our happy girl Grace

I had a great month with quilting time every weekend and several days of good stitching time. Work was busy and I had some late evenings and early mornings, but it is easier to manage those when all you have to do it wander down the stairs! 

Mask making continued this month - I made a few more for my daughter to wear to camp, and made some for the girls in my Girl Scout troop. Beyond that, the goal in the sewing room was mostly quilting and binding. I made and attached the binding to my Broken Star Log Cabin - you'll get the final picture for July as I didn't get it all sewn down until the 2nd. 

I also had another sewing overnight with my mom and this time, we had a project with a purpose. We made a comfort quilt - this project was certainly a tough one - from the curved piecing to fitting it all together correctly, it took us a full day and a half with both of us piecing, cutting, and ironing. 
I brought it home and quilted it the next weekend - gentle curves across the full quilt. It made for a quick quilting job, which is nice. I dropped it back off for my mom and she will add the label and binding, and then we will put it in the mail and hope the recipient likes it. We had such a good time that we've planned another quilting overnight in July - I think we will try to keep this up as long as we can, and it really helps me to stay motivated to move along some projects. 

The other quilty project I worked on a little this month is the blocks for my son's new bed quilt. I've been making scrap blocks for a few months now, so thought I'd put them together with the blue scrappy background and see how he likes it. I got the first three made, and need to finish up a few more to really see how it comes together. The pattern is End of the Rainbow from the book Irish Chain Quilts by Melissa Corry. 

On the stitching side, I worked on continuing to move along the projects I started during Maynia. I worked on and off on all three and got one to the finish line on the 28th. This is a Bent Creek pattern called "Patriotic Cracker" that I bought at a Stitcher's Garage Sale last year for $3 and it came with the linen and threads - not bad at all! It looks a little wonky, but really did turn out square. 

I also worked on some finishing during June - I moved a few pieces closer, and actually finished one! Here's Country Cottage Needleworks Stars and Stripes. I worked on this in 2016 during our summer vacation to Michigan and love having it done in time to put out for the summer holidays. The frame looks purple in this picture, but is is actually the same shade as the lightest blue in the bunting. I think I might need to find an embellishment or two for the frame. 

I think that's all the activity for this month - here are the stats: 

Stash Report - linking up with Donna at quiltpaintcreate
Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 5 yards (masks and backing)
Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 18 1/4 yards

Stitching time - linking up with Kate at Life in Pieces
Days with crafting = 23/30 = 77%

Exercise time - 
Weeks with at least 90 minutes of exercise = 3/4 = 75%

Hope you had a nice June and that your July has started off well. 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

May 2020 - The Virtual Retreat and Stitch Maynia 2020

Hi everyone and hope that you're all doing well. As I type this, we are enjoying a gorgeous early summer day with sunshine and low humidity. How was your month of May?  Mine was great, and I had lots of time for quilting and stitching. 

Let's start with quilting - May is the month of my spring retreat in Shipshewana, an event I always look forward to. I am sure you can guess already that the retreat was cancelled this year due to our stay at home orders. After some debate and discussion, my mom and I decided to still have a mini-retreat at home, and we called it our virtual retreat. We had Zoom calls a couple times and enjoyed talking with other quilters and seeing what they were working on. I had a really productive virtual retreat, and here's what I made: 

I bound the table runner that I pieced last month and had quilted the weekend before our virtual retreat - it will be great to put on our coffee table around the fourth of July! 

I pulled out a kit that I bought a long time ago and finally got it put together - it is all fused, hand-dyed fabric. I'd used my scan-n-cut to cut out all the pieces back in December and it was great to get them all put on the backing. I still need to quilt it, but isn't it cute? 

I am a little behind on the scrap blocks that I am making for my son's quilt, so I got the third set of them done in blue/teal. Now that I have three colors together, I am going to put together a few of the finished blocks to make sure my son likes it before I go further. 
The next thing I worked on was my log cabin blocks that I have worked on at a few other retreats, and thought I would be happy if I got the last set of blocks together. Once I got them together, then I kept going and wound up with the whole top finished! I also got it loaded and quilted this month, but don't have it bound yet - that's on the docket for June, so hopefully I will be able to show you the finished quilt next month.
My last project of retreat was another stitching bag - I bought the fabric for this back in December and love how it came together. 

On the stitching front, it was also a great month. I participated in Stitch Maynia, an annual stitch-a-long during the month of May. This year, I decided to start a few new projects, and my goal was to find at least a little time to stitch every day. I did it - 31 days of stitching! It helps not having any evening activities that I have to be at ;)  I did finish two projects - coincidentally both by Sam Sarah Designs! 

Here are the stats for the month: 

Stash Report - 
Fabric added this month - 0 yards
Fabric used this month - 3 1/8 yards

Fabric added year to date - 0 yards
Fabric used year to date - 13 1/4 yards

Days with 15 minutes of stitching - 31 of 31 = 100%!! 

I am linking up with Donna at QuiltPaintCreate for Stash Report Sunday and Kate at Life in Pieces for the weekly Stitching report 

Exercise report - weeks with at least 90 minutes of exercise - 2 of 4 weeks 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

April 2020

Here we are at the start of another month - it is a beautiful spring day here in Indianapolis and I've spent the morning cleaning up the garden, a task I don't love to do, but am always happy about once it is finished! I look forward to picking up a few vegetable plants in the next few weeks to start the growing for the year. 

On the quilting front, I have a big finish! I finished the quilting and attached the binding to my 2018 Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt! I just love this top made from scraps that I made month by month in 2018. I finished the top last year, and I am so glad I didn't let this top get put away.  Hope you like it too! 

In addition to the top, I spent a little time during the month making masks for friends, family, and healthcare workers. I finished up what I hope will be the last round. I am glad to have made them and also glad that the situation seems to be a bit more stable now, no doubt thanks to quilters across the country. 

I also spent a day playing with my Brother Scan-n-Cut - I cut out another applique kit that I bought in 2014, and then the next weekend, got it put together into a table runner that is ready to be quilted. 

I already shared most of my stitching finishes for the month, but I have one more to share. I have a friend who has always wanted a VW Bus for cross-country adventures and camping. When I saw this kit to make a coaster, I knew I had to get it for her! I did a dropoff last weekend and she sent me a picture of it in use this week :) 

Here are the official numbers for the reports this month: 
Stash Report - linking up with Donna at quiltpaintcreate
Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 2 3/4 yards
Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 10 1/8 yards

Days with at least 15 minutes crafting: 23/30 days = 77% (same as March!) - linking up with Kate at Life in Pieces

Oh, I can't believe it - I almost forgot to share the best part of our month! Last Friday, we met a sweet rescue girl and brought her home. Meet Grace, who has quickly become a part of the family. She is middle age (somewhere between 4-7) and has a very sweet disposition. She is fitting in quite well (just don't ask the cat how she feels!) and we are all so happy to have a dog again. Here she is with the birthday girl, who amazingly turned 15 at the end of the month!
 Hope you all had a nice April and wishing you a happy May! 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Easter Goodies

We had a nice, quiet Easter at home last weekend, which we do most years as we aren't really church-goers. The days of kids waking up and sprinting around the house hopped up on Easter candy have pretty much gone, as we now have teenagers who wander down mid-morning, take one look at the baskets, say "cool" and keep going toward the kitchen! For years, they used to dump their baskets on their heads and laugh and laugh. I asked them to do it this year and was met with eye rolls :) 

Late in March, I dug through all my finished stitching pieces and pulled out all the Easter/spring related ones. If you've been here for any amount of time, you know that fully-finishing my pieces is not my strong suit, but I decided that, with all the time in the world these days, I needed to finish up a few of these pieces! 

I bought the hanger to finish this one about a year ago and knew all along that I wanted to finish it as a bell pull. Thanks to the easy instructions from Vonna at The Twisted Stitcher, it went together quickly. It is a little crooked as I just couldn't get the stitching to lay straight, but I am still enjoying it in my kitchen. As you can see from the date, I stitched this one in 2017 - not too bad, only three years to finish it! 
Primitive Egg
The second finish is a cube, also from instructions at The Twisted Stitcher. I've made several cubes and really like how they look and how easy they are to store. This one is a little busier than I usually do with the dual ribbon, but I think the colors really pop. I love that rich blue that's in the stitching and brought out in the ribbon. This one is finished with a pink/white check that was deep in my fabric stash. It's the perfect color to go with the bunny ears and noses. This one was stitched in 2018, so only two years! 
Topsy Turvy Bunnies
My third finish isn't an FFO, but is my monthly stitch from the Stitchingly Months of the Year SAL. I loved the bright colors again this month, and it seemed to go quite quickly with stitching time almost every evening in April. 

I have two more spring/Easter projects in my basement to be FFO'ed and may get to them yet this month. I have the items needed pulled for both of them - one will be a "framed" piece and the other a pillow. I will just see what strikes my fancy to work on when I head down to the basement later today or tomorrow. 

Hope you all had a nice Easter and see you again around the start of May! 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Remote March 2020

It is early on a Sunday morning as I type this post and the house is quiet except for the sound of the heater, the cat eating her breakfast, and the keys typing. I am looking out on the garden in our backyard, which is a little random, but has the most lovely flowers saying hello to me - I love the bright pop of yellow in the daffodils and the forsythia tree, and the subtle green of new leaves behind them. It is spring in Indiana and it gives me hope that we too will be able to weather this tough season.

I started working from home the second full week of March - my company was early to send us all home and it has been good, as very few employees have fallen ill. We also have essential business to conduct, so it keeps those on the manufacturing and distribution lines safer. Everyone scoffed when I started working from home, then slowly a week or two later, they all started to do the same. It has been a weird month for sure, capped off with two weeks of remote training with a team from around the world. We had a few weeks to prepare for being completely remote and decided that we'd all work European hours, with our US team logging on at 4:30 am and our Asia team staying on until midnight. We all made it work, and though it was nowhere near what training would have been in person, we still managed to get to know each other better, laugh, and create some jokes among the group. It is impressive to see what we can do when we all work together. I hope that we can continue to do that for the coming weeks, maybe months, to help those in our population who can't afford to be sick, whether due to age, immune systems, or serving as a provider to their family. And I hope any of you who are reading this are well.

It seems strange to go into a regular monthly report of my stitching and quilting, but the best thing to do in these times is get into a routine. I am so happy for my hobbies, and can't imagine getting through this time without them. I made a lot more mistakes than usual, but I was forgiving with myself and just kept powering along.

On the stitching front, I worked on four projects this month, with two coming to a finish. First is my Stitchingly Months of the Year SAL, which was created to commemorate Women's month, perhaps women's suffrage, but became for me a bit of a rallying cry by the end of the month to come together in the current situation. I now have a complete row across the top and it is hard to believe the year is 1/4 over! 

I also continued stitching on my travel project, as it is clear I won't be on an airplane anytime soon. I finished this cute little guy about mid-month. I channeled my blogging and Instagram friend Carol and stitched this over 1 on some scrap fabric in my stash. I think he turned out pretty cute! He is little - about 2 1/2" square. 

On the quilting front, I decided to keep going with my UFOs and got the back made for my Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt from last year. I loaded and started quilting it, and am about 2/3 of the way done, planning for a finish in the early part of April.

I also caught up on my scrap blocks for February, finishing up 4 orange scrap blocks, which will be cut further to go into a quilt for my son.

I also set to making fabric masks, as it became clear that our healthcare workers would need something to supplement what they have. I didn't have much elastic, but my mom found some that originally cost 60 cents! And then she found a second package, so my daughter and I set to making masks. She hasn't sewn much, but learned quickly and has been a great help. We've finished two batches, and will make some more this week. We ran out of elastic the second week so went to ties on a few. All the fabric I am using is from my scrap bins, and it is nice to be able to do something with the larger pieces, although I will say that the bins don't really seems to be any more empty!
Masks from the blue scrap bin, with a few red/yellow
Masks from the green scrap bin
My daughter sewing away!
Now we will get on to the stats for the month. With no commute, I was able to get in more stitching, sewing, and exercise and the numbers show it:

Stash Report with Donna:
Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 6 1/8 yards
Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 7 3/8 yards
Net fabric used: 7 3/8 yards

Stitching time Report with Kate:
Days with crafting in March: 24 / 77%
Days crafting YTD: 65 / 71%

Weeks with at least 90 minutes of exercise:  4 out of 4 = 100%

Hope that you find some comfort in your crafts in the coming days and weeks. I wish you all well and hope that you remain healthy or recover quickly.

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