2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Monday, June 27, 2016

June Accomplishments

I won't be in my sewing room for the rest of the month, so I thought I'd post my June accomplishments a little early.  The month started with a mad dash to get teacher presents finished as the kids finished school on the 7th.  I think I already showed you the mini-quilt top that Jack and I made for his teacher - while he was off enjoying Boy Scout camping with his pack, I decided I would try my hand at facing a quilt. I picked an orange backing and had some orange strips in my scrap container to make up the pieces I needed. I followed the instructions for facing a quilt with a mitered binding from Susan Brubaker Knapp's blog. They were fairly straightforward and well written. I did have a few issues with the corners, which I will chalk up to eyeballing (vs. measuring) and inexperience. In the end, I am pleased with how it came out and Jack's teacher loved it. 
Quilt front after facing
Faced quilt back
The other teacher gift was for my daughter's Star Wars loving teacher - and I used the remainder of the Star Wars fabric I bought to make his Christmas present to make a one-hour basket from the free pattern I picked up on Craftsy a while back. I timed myself as I made this to see if it really took one hour and it clocked in at 45 minutes - perfect! This is a great size basket and I plan to make more of them for all kinds of things. They also make a great teacher gift. 
One hour basket
The other project I worked on throughout the month is my Valentine diamonds. This was my May UFO so I kept going on this one instead of switching to my June UFO. I finished the month with a finished top and back and I am looking forward to quilting this one. 
The last picture I have to share with you is our bee's finished quilt for Diana's Golden Needle. Caryl put the binding on it over the last few weeks and it came back to me last week. I need to get it mailed off now to support Diana in her Gold Award project - her original goal of finishing 16 quilts is now almost to 100 finished quilts in the Scrappy Trips pattern, plus she still has more tops that will be quilted and somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 quilts in different patterns - what a great project this has been to watch - I've really enjoyed seeing her accomplishments and am glad that we have a quilt to donate to the cause. 
My total sewing time in June was around 7 hours - a lean month in terms of hours, but I set a goal for myself to spend at least a little time in my sewing room 2 weekdays and 1 weekend day every week and it seems to be working. I have several other projects in the queue, so I plan to continue with this plan to get me downstairs, because once I am there, I am usually content to stay for a while.  

I hope you're enjoying your summer and getting some good time in to work on the crafts you love. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

May 2016 Cooking

As time has gone on, it has gotten to be more of a challenge to find new recipes to cook, and we're also trying to go back and make some of the things we enjoyed the first time around! It is funny when we have something we had before (I know because I mark all the cookbook recipes we've made and have a separate folder for recipes we've made vs. haven't made) because we often don't remember how we felt about it the first time around!  

We tried a few new great recipes in May: 

From our Fix-it and Enjoy-it Cookbook, we tried Asian beef and noodles. This is made with ground beef and is a nice alternative to tacos or hamburgers. It was also a quick meal for a weeknight. If you are looking for one cookbook to add to your collection that has a wide variety of foods, most of which are fairly easy to cook, I highly recommend this cookbook. We've enjoyed a lot of recipes from it!   

Next up was another of the crock pot meals left by my neighbor - this one is Sweet and Sour Beef. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this because I don't like sweet and sour dishes when we get Chinese food. I was pleasantly surprised by this one and enjoyed it. It was a little heavy on the pineapple, but the overall taste was good.

Our favorite meal in May was El Paso Enchiladas from Mr. Food. We devoured this pan of enchiladas and will definitely make this one again!  It was great to have all the chicken cooked and shredded ahead of time for this meal. 

The final new recipe for May was Pineapple Sheet Cake, which I made when I hosted my bunco group.  It was tasty, but we never finished the whole pan. I am pretty much the only one in our house who likes pineapple. I might make this again, but would more likely go back to some of the other desserts we've made.  One thing I can say for this recipe is that it was super easy to make. It came from my Mary Englebreit Fan Fare cookbook. I will have to try a few more recipes from this cookbook - what we've made to date has been okay, but not great. 
Hope you enjoyed reading about our new recipes - do you have any favorites we should try? 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

May 2016 Accomplishments

May was a great month and I got a lot of stitching done. I didn't even touch my sewing room until the back half of the month, but when I did, I made some good progress. 

Let's start with the stitching this month - I continue to work on my ornaments from the 2015 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments magazine. I finished May and June during May.  The May ornament took a while, but the June one zipped right along and I finished it in three days! I am glad to have these done so that I can spend June working on a non-ornament project. 
Christmas Test Drive - May ornament
June ornament - Joyful Santa
On the weekend of the 21st, the boys went camping with scouts, so my mom came down for the afternoon and we had a finishing day. I made my Lizzie Kate reindeer into a pillow, got two ornaments finished, and made a cube from the Dream Big kit that I stitched last year. I still need to make some cording for the Plenty ornament, but I am really pleased to have gotten so much done in one afternoon! 

On the crochet front, I sat down and went back to the Pikachu hat that I started for my daughter in spring of 2015.  Last June, I attached the eyes and cheeks and it looked scary! I threw it into a bag and didn't touch it again until my daughter asked me if I was ever going to finish it for her. I pulled it out the next night, read some tips on Ravelry, and started with fresh eyes and cheeks. While it still doesn't look like the model, it is done and the important thing is that she likes it! 
Finally, in the sewing front, I focused on my APQ Challenge project for the month. By the end of the month, I had all the blocks done and up on the wall. I am now working my way through piecing them into diamonds, mostly one or two at a time. 
All in, not counting couch time where I stitch, crochet, or hand sew, I had 7 1/4 hours dedicated to sewing time. I have a long list of things to work on in June, so hope to get a little more consistent at getting down to the basement a few times a week. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

May 2016 Stash Report

May was a pretty slow sewing month for me, so there wasn't much activity in my stash. I did start a new quilt top as part of the APQ UFO Challenge - it is a pattern and layer cake I've had together for a long time. It has been to at least 3 retreats as an "if I have time" project and never pulled out of the bag, which is why I put it on my UFO list! 

The other fabric usage I have is from doing some cross stitch finishing. 

No fabric purchases happened in May - I don't think I even went to any quilt shops! 

Here's the result on the stash report: 
Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 3 yards

Fabric added year to date: 3 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 27 1/4 yards

Net fabric used: 23 5/8 yards
Hope you had a great May with your stash! 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

April 2016 Quilting and Stitching Accomplishments

I knew for most of the month of April that it would likely be my last month to work part time for a while, so I was bound and determined to get a few things moved along or finished before I headed back to work and into the summer, when I know I don't usually do as much quilting given busier schedules and more time outside. 

I started the month with a great day - the kids were on spring break one more day and came to my bee workday with me. Jenna brought along her stitching and some books and kept herself busy all day. Jack brought along some legos and books, but by late morning, he was looking for something else to do. I'd put in my bag of scraps from the Crayon quilt and thought I'd just spend a little time playing to see what I could come up with. It turned out this was right up Jack's alley and he jumped right in. While I sewed triangles together, he worked on a layout. Then, he got into the game and did some sewing, decided on how to put together the borders, and learned how to press a seam open. He did a great job with all of it and we wound up with a very cute mini-quilt, which we decided will be his teacher's end-of-year thank you gift. 

I also wanted to finish up one of my UFOs this month, and as luck would have it, the one I loaded on my frame in late March was the one that was selected to work on in April! I finished the quilting, got the binding attached, and then worked on sewing it down during tv watching and bee meetings during the month. I am really glad to have this one finished and ready to put out this Christmas season. I think I bought the kit at the 2009 quilt show, and I finished the top ages ago, so it was high time I got it finished! 

Next up was the Trip around the World top that my bee made for Diana's Golden Needle (you can find her on facebook). The top was finished a while ago, so I finally got it on the frame, using some white muslin for the backing. I got it quilted and trimmed, made the binding, and then passed it off to another bee-mate for doing the binding. Once it is back, it will be on its way to North Carolina to be given to a child who has aged out of the foster care system. 

Finally, I got my Quilting in Layers top put together. I already told you a little about this one in my stash report, but I really had a good time making this and I think there will be another one in my future. I really liked the process of putting it together and I'd like to see how it turns out if I used the same technique across the whole quilt or if I only used two colors. 

Last up are my stitching finishes for April - I spend the majority of the month working on the plastic canvas reindeer which is part 1 of a four-part kit. I won't be moving on to parts 2-4 for a while because I really don't like working on plastic canvas, but I do like how cute this guy turned out! 

After the reindeer was finished, I had just enough time to get in the ornament for the month from Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments - this one is called Very Merry Christmas by Medina Originals. It was a quick stitch and I like how it turned out! I used leftover fabric that I had on hand and most of the called for colors. 

So, that's the recap for the month - I spent 13 3/4 hours quilting during the month, not including binding or stitching time. I am pretty pleased with all that I got done! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

April 2016 Cooking

Wow, I am way behind on my monthly recaps - I had great plans to get one blog post out each week and then I fell behind! If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, right? 

We had a great month of new recipes in April as we inherited my neighbor's crock pot meals from her freezer when she moved and as I dug deeper into a few of my cookbooks. The results of both were very yummy! 

We actually did have one new recipe in March that I forgot about - it is one of those Facebook recipes that seem to be all over my feed these days - this one looked like a good fit for our family, so we made it and we really enjoyed it. It is called Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Next up are the couple crock pot meals - several months ago, my neighbor made the 40 meals in an afternoon where you prep, bag, and freeze the ingredients for a ton of meals. She purchased her recipes from this website. The first one we made was Cheeseburger Soup and it cooked up like more of a stew than a soup. You pour a cup of rice in late in the recipe to thicken it up and it went a little too far. I think I'd sub pasta for the rice if we make this one again. The taste was okay but nothing to write home about, and it really didn't look attractive on the plate either! 
Next up was Slow cooker Chicken Cacciatore. This smelled really good when we walked in the house and the flavor was good. The balance of onions to chicken was a little off - too many onions for our preference - and the flavor was okay, but a little on the bland side. I don't think we will go out of our way to make this one again. 
 The first cookbook I took another pass at is my trust Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. This one is my go-to when I need to find a classic meal. We tried three recipes, but I only got pictures of two. The first (no picture) recipe is Crispy Oven-Fried Fish. Honestly, I didn't even remember we made this until I pulled my weekly menu plans to write this post! It must have been okay but not so good that it is seared in my mind! 

Next up was Marinated Pork Chops. I think we cooked these a little long because they turned out kind of tough and dry. The marinade was okay, but not good enough that we will be clamoring to make them again. 
The third meal from this cookbook is a keeper - Baked Cavatelli, You can't go wrong in our house with a baked pasta and cheese dish, and this one didn't disappoint! 
The next cookbook deep dive was into my Mary Englebreit cookbook and we tried Hot Chicken Salad, which was great! The kids were lukewarm on it, but Mike and I really enjoyed it. Again with the cheese, and this one had potato chips on top too! 
Next up was Steak Fajitas from Mr. Food. These were tasty, but I'd buy more meat next time! We wound up with enough for only one fajita each, which you know isn't enough!  
Last up are a couple recipes from the Fix it and Enjoy it Cookbook - Asian Beef and Noodles, a simple dish made with ground beef and ramen noodles. This was a quick weeknight meal and we all liked it. 
 And finally, Key Lime Pie from the same cookbook. Miss Jenna requested this for her birthday celebration, and it was a great choice! We are all fans of key lime pie in our house and this one didn't disappoint!  

 Hope you enjoyed the recap and got some inspiration for your meals this week! Let me know if you have any must-try recipes to share with me! 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stash Report - April 2016

April was a steady but quiet month for me. I spent a the first part of it helping my neighbor and great friend pack up her house and get ready for a move to Orlando, and we had to race to finish watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix in the last few days before she left, so I spent way more time stitching than sewing or quilting this month, however, I did have a little stash usage. 
Wonky Trees Getting Quilted
I finished quilting my APQ Challenge top for April and made the binding (the top and back were already counted), and then on a whim I signed up for a guild workshop with Terry Kramzar. It was a great workshop on Quilting in Layers and I really enjoyed it. I started with three rolls of batiks and a handful of other fabrics and wound up using 15 fat eighths of the batiks to put my top together. 
Quilting in Layers Top
That's all for this month - a little time piecing, a little time quilting, and a new skill learned. 

Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 2 1/4 yards

Fabric added year to date: 3 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 24 1/4 yards

Net fabric used: 20 5/8 yards

Hope you had a great April with your stash!