2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Stash Report - Weeks 2-3 2014

I have been plugging along on a couple projects this month - mostly finishing up other things I've started rather than starting new things. I guess I think it will feel good to have a few UFOs finished to start the new year.  The result on my stash report is that there hasn't been much movement because the fabric was either already cut or is from stash. This week, I did have some movement because I ran out of strips for my Stained Glass Log Cabin.  I spent a couple hours cutting and got the remaining pieces cut. 

Lots of strips
Fabric added this week: 0 yards
Fabric used this week: 2 1/2 yards

Fabric added year to date: 2 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 4 5/8 yards

In addition to spending a little time this week making progress on my three projects that are in various phases (Stained Glass Log Cabin, Catventquiltalong, and Oriental French Braid), I suppose I should work on cleaning off my cutting table....it has become a bit of a dumping ground over the last month or so. 
Messy cutting table
This seems to be a common problem among quilters, doesn't it?  Our bee was talking about this earlier in the week and decided we need to dedicate a little time every month to keep up with it. Join us if you'd like - it will be the last Sunday of each month, so if I make some progress this week, I will have some free time next Sunday! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

December Cookbook Challenge

I realized this morning that I hadn't shared our cooking results from December.  With the holidays, I wanted to make sure I had a cookbook that included lots of recipe variety.  It was the perfect month for an old classic, the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (I have the 11th edition and this link takes you to the current 15th edition, but I would guess that a lot of the recipes are the same).

Let's start with the dinners....

Steak with Lemon Butter was a good weeknight meal, as it was easy and relatively quick. We broiled the steak, per the directions, but I think it would be a little tastier done on the grill, so we'll probably try this again in the summer. The lemon butter was really yummy!
Steak with lemon butter
Pasta Pizza was great! I've seen dishes like this before, but we'd never made one and it is a good comfort meal. The recipe calls for ground beef and mushrooms, but you could easily adjust it to include any pizza toppings you like. The leftovers on this were even better!
Pizza pasta
Pepper Lime Chicken is a dish I'd made before - a long time ago.  It was great and also an easy weeknight meal. You make the glaze while the chicken is broiling and the flavors are really good. The kids really liked this one too. 
Pepper Lime Chicken
Stir-Fried Shrimp and Broccoli was a good, low fat meal, which is important  in this time of year of comfort food and baked goodies at every turn. 
Stir Fried Shrimp and Broccoli
Spinach-Rice Casserole is a recipe I tried because I had a ton of rice that was cooked (per previous recipe) and I needed to find a way to use it. The recipe is meatless and calls for tofu, which I'd never cooked with before.  In the end, it was tasty, but a little bland. I would make it again, but I would experiment with some more spices to zip it up a little. 
Spinach Rice Casserole
Chicken Tetrazzini - I love a good tetrazzini, but I don't think I've ever made it before because I was a little intimidated by it. The almonds on the top of this one made it. The kids didn't care for it, but Mike and I enjoyed it, so we will make it again (and we'll just cook some plain chicken and noodles for the kids). 
Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Soup with Lentils and Barley - This was the last recipe of the month and the leftovers carried us into the polar vortex the following week.  Like a few of the other recipes this month, it was good, but lacked any zip. It called for green or red peppers, which may have been the zip, but we don't eat them in this house. If you have any suggestions for a good alternate to peppers to add some zing, please let me know! (I forgot to take a picture of this one, but just imagine a big soup pot with chicken, barley, and tomatoes. More like a stew than a soup.)

Now that we're done with dinner, let's move on to dessert! 

At the beginning of December, Jenna wanted to bake cookies one day while I was busy working on Christmas gifts. I roped Mike into it and he was a little less than thrilled (but he was a willing participant.  He and Jenna made Shortbread cookies.  We have a family recipe for shortbread that I've always used, so I was interested to see how these turned out.  They were okay, but I will go back to using the family recipe! 

The other dessert that I made was Pralines. Being from Texas, I love pralines the way they are made there - with sugar instead of caramel.  This was the right recipe for that with 3 cups of sugar total!  This recipe was pretty labor intensive, but it was worth the effort, because these little bites of yum just melted in your mouth.  I may have made myself a little sick from eating too many of them....and they certainly contributed to some holiday weight gain! 
Mmmmmm, Pralines

Totaling all those up, we made 9 recipes from this cookbook, and we certainly could have made many more!  I will continue to go back to this cookbook for basics - tried and true recipes for cakes, cookies, breads and muffins, dinners. The other thing that is good about this cookbook is that it has reference pages, hints for preparing different cuts of meat, diagrams, and lots of good pictures. It would be a great gift for someone moving out on their own for the first time. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hooray for Work Day!

Today I celebrated my return to an 80% work schedule by attending my bee's work day. We get together once a month at a local community room and bring our machines, our projects, and our opinions.  It is always a great place to ask for help, get ideas, or do those tasks you really don't enjoy doing alone in your sewing room. For me, the task I really hate doing is cutting out a quilt. I don't mind cutting out something small, but the bigger ones are so tedious when I am all by myself. 

I had gotten just about as far as I could on my Stained Glass Log Cabin blocks and needed to cut the final two sets of black strips and the final set of colored strips. I did a little sewing when I arrived, then trimmed the blocks for the first cut, then started cutting...and cutting, and cutting. Boy, I love the look of Log Cabins, but there are a boatload of pieces! 
Blocks waiting for first trim on left, done with first trim on the right. 
I am glad to say that I finished my cutting in time to get in another 1/2 hour of sewing, so the final round of pieces are in progress. I have 100 sets to make, 3 pieces each, and then I attach them to the partial blocks. 
Finished blocks (21 done, 25 to go)
I am sure looking forward to having this top finished - I love all the bright colors and I've already picked out the perfect back for it - black with bright floral from Lois' stash. It is a piece I have pulled out several times for other quilts, but it has never quite worked. I am glad that it didn't before, because I think it will go great with this quilt. 

On the way home, after a stop at the grocery store to stock up for the week, I stopped by Quilt Quarters, a local shop who is celebrating their anniversary. As part of their celebration, they had all books 25% off. I was looking for one specific book as I walked in and they didn't have that, but I did find a few others that look fun.  And, hey, I was supporting a small business in the process :) 
New books
Hope you had a great Monday! 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 Goals

I have taken a little longer this year to solidify my goals. Usually, I have lots going on that I want to get done so it is easy to come up with a long list. This year, I think I will give myself a little bit of a break and have a shorter list of both quilting and personal goals. 

My quilting goals follow along a theme similar to many quilters - work on UFOs, use my stash, learn some new things - and they work for me.  Here are the specifics for my quilting/crafting goals: 
1. Quilt some tops.  I realized this year that I tend to stall on my UFOs when they get to a finished top stage, unless I have a specific deadline, so I am going to try to focus on quilting several of the tops that are waiting for me now and also quilting the new ones which I make through 2014. 
2. Use my patterns - I have done a fair job of this over the last few years, but want to continue to work on making patterns that I've bought, because I liked them all when I bought them, so I really should use them!  I got a bee in my bonnet a few weeks ago and went through all my quilt books with a set of tape flags in my hand and marked off the projects I really want to make.  The books on the left all have a specific project marked. The ones on the right still have quilts I like or techniques that I plan to reference at some point, so they will remain in my library. I haven't looked at my patterns, but I imagine if I piled them all up and prioritized them, it would be the opposite! 
3. Keep my Avante busy - quilt another 20 quilts this year, and really work on improving my quilting skills through taking my Craftsy classes and trying some of the techniques in them.  While not all quilts will call for custom quilting, I would like to do that on a few. 
4. Stitch Away! I am near finishing my oldest stitching UFO and plan to keep stitching after that one is done. I'd like to finish 6 stitching projects this year (and actually finish them, not just put them into my pile of "stitched but not framed" linens).
5. Make gifts - I have so many patterns that will make great gifts, so I'd really like to focus in 2014 on making gifts for others - and throughout the year, so I am not backed up in December like I was this year! 

Personal goals: 
1. Watch more movies - I want to take the time to go to the movies and watch them at home. We have a Netflix subscription that Mike and the kids make good use of, but that I don't use as much. I'll set the goal at 1 movie a month in the theater and at least 1 a month at home. 
2. Keep cooking - with the success of our recipe challenge last year, I want to keep cooking new things and making good use of my recipes. This year, I won't pick a specific cookbook each month, but I do want to work my way through some of the paper recipes. I will continue to blog about this as well. 
3. Keep working to clean stuff out. I did a fairly good job of going through my stuff last year, but I didn't clean much out and I know I could revisit this. I also need to get a handle on the kids' outgrown clothes and their old toys and books. 

So, not as long of a list as 2013, but I think it is a good list!  Hope you have some great goals for the new year too!  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2013 - Year in Review

I always enjoy taking a few minutes at the start of the year to reflect on what I've done in the past year, especially when it comes to my quilting.  I had some quiet time last week and decided to make a quick list for myself of all the finished tops, bags, quilts, and other fabric items.  At the end of it, I am really glad to have finished so much, even though I spent much of the year thinking I wasn't doing much quilting (and the numbers don't lie - I didn't do nearly as much as in past years).  At the end of the year as I reflect back, I am okay with less quilting time.  I did a lot more stitching than I've done in recent years, in part due to stitching and tv nights with my neighbor (thanks Beth!), and I did a lot more reading than I've done for several years, so I think I had a good balance overall. 

Here's the year by the numbers: 
Bags made = 8, 6 of them gifted to others
Quilt tops put together = 10
Quilts finished (either start to finish in 2013 or UFOs from prior years) = 12, 2 of which include UFOs of Lois', 3 of which were gifts
Other fabric items = 11, 10 of which were made for or gifted to others
Quilts quilted on my HQ Avante = 23, only three of which remain in this house 

It was a great year, and here's how I did on the goals I set out in early 2013: 
Quilting goals: 
1. Quilt at least 20 items on my HQ Avante - done at 23
2. Finish at least 5 of my current UFOs, plus the two quilts (Easy Street and Rolling Stones) that are in progress now. Almost done: Finished Amy Butler shirt, Jelly Roll Challenge quilt, Rolling Stones mini, Red and White Snowball quilt, and Christmas Disappearing 4-Patch. I got my Easy Street top finished but have yet to make the back or quilt it.  
3. Continue with the things I have done for the last few years - stashbusting, tracking time sewing, and making a donation/charity quilt with leader/enders. Done! I donated two quilts to the ALS Challenge this year, and made two comfort quilts for coworkers dealing with medical challenges. 
4. Make 3 projects (can be quilts, purses, or other items) from existing patterns or books. Done - I made a purse from a magazine, wonder wallets (I've had this pattern for years, but this was the first time I made one), and a tagalong purse.  
5. Start on 2 kits. Done - I did three kits this year - the Christmas mini, the Christmas Disappearing 9-Patch, and the Pumpkin table runner. 
6. Balance time between piecing, quilting, and stitching. I think I did a pretty good job at this. 

Personal goals: 
1. Read all the books that are in my room right now - I have done really well and finished 8 of 11 in 2013. I also refrained from checking out library books or downloading books almost the entire year. 
2. Make it the year of using my cookbooks - choose a cookbook each month and make at least one recipe from it (bonus points for making multiple recipes). If I can't find one recipe to make in a month's time, get rid of the book! This was a rip-roaring success! The whole family got involved in this and we have really enjoyed trying lots of new recipes and rating how much we like them. We will continue to experiment with our menus. 
3. Go through keepsakes on the bottom shelf of my stitching storage area and get rid of those things I no longer need so that I have some room to move other items there and clear the floor under my sewing area. I did okay on this one but not great.  I did go through most of the keepsakes, but didn't find too many that I was willing to part with, so I didn't really make any more space under my sewing area...I will have to revisit the boxes again in a few years. 
4. Redecorate my dining room (with assistance). I didn't even start on this one...it is still a priority, as are several other things in our house which seems to be aging quickly. 

I will be back in the next week or so with my goals for 2014.  I have a few settled, but I am still noodling on the full list. I hope you've enjoyed this little recap of my year. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stash Report - End 2013 and Week 1 2014

I like to follow the calendar year for my stash report, so before I get to my week 1 report, let's finish out 2013.  

On New Year's Eve, I made my final project (and Christmas gift) of the year, a steering wheel cover.  It just used a quarter yard of fabric and I love how it turned out! This was the one hour project I mentioned last week. When I went back to the bookmark, I found that it was actually marketed as a 30-minute project. I did not have all my stuff laid out and precut, and it took me an hour.  If I was making them assembly line, and/or had everything cut and ready, then I think that it could be a 30 minute project. I already have the materials cut out and ready for a second one, but I am out of elastic, so will need to replenish that before I can finish #2. 
Steering Wheel Cover
That made my final numbers improve just a smidge: 
Fabric used in last three days of 2013: 1/4 yards
Fabric added in last three days of 2013: 0 yards

Fabric added all 2013: 27 yards
Fabric used all 2013: 78 7/8 yards

Net fabric used: 51 7/8 yards

And since I started tracking (all of these are net usage): 
2010:  92 7/8 yards
2011:  77 3/4 yards
2012:  61 3/8 yards
2013:  51 7/8 yards
Total usage since I started tracking: 283 7/8 yards -- not bad! The bad part is that you can hardly tell the difference in my stash....that comes from the inheritance that I received in 2010 which I am guessing is somewhere upwards of 1000 yards of fabric...hopefully I will see a difference in my lifetime!  

For the start of 2014, I used a little fabric on new year's day when I threw a panel onto the frame and quilted it. The usage is for top, back, and binding. I also did a little shopping at Green Fairy Quilts - she had a great sale and there were a few lines that I've liked for a while but haven't purchased yet, so I let them jump into my cart. 
This puts me barely into the hole but I plan to get out of it pretty soon. 
Fabric added this week: 2 5/8 yards
Fabric used this week: 2 1/8 yards

Net fabric used: -1/2 yard

Hope you got some sewing in over the New Year's holiday.  I am planning more today and tomorrow as we sit at home watching the snow come down and waiting for the super cold temps expected to arrive tonight. Hope you're either enjoying some warmth or are hunkered down and ready for the cold. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

December 2013 Accomplishments

As I shared yesterday in my Four Goals post, the deadline of a coming holiday really helped me get moving in my sewing room!  I got lots done and had 25 3/4 hours of sewing - I think that's a high for the year (barring the months I had retreats).  It helped to have some extra time off work at the end of the year. 

Here's what I got done: 
- Quilted photo quilt for a family friend. 
- Made 3 laminate bags for teacher/friend gifts. 
- Loaded, quilted, and bound Swirls #1 table topper (to be gifted this weekend)
- Pieced, quilted, bound, and gifted 4th of July table runner
- Made fabric cube for teacher gift. 
- Cut out the background and made 4 kitty blocks for the catventquiltalong
- Pieced, quilted, and bound Swirls #2 table topper (also to be gifted this weekend). 
- Quilted layer cake top for my mom (quilted with Echo Holly and Pointsettia panto, YLI Variegated top thread and Bottom Line in the bobbin)
Quilt top

Poinsettia close-up
- Got re-started on my stained glass log cabin blocks at a sewing day
- Made a steering wheel cover (to be gifted this week, then photo to come). 

It was a great month and I am looking forward to spending some time in January on projects that I want to keep moving forward. I am hoping to shorten the UFO list a little before I get going this year.  I've realized that most of my UFOs are stalled at the quilting phase, so I am going to work on that over the first few months of the year. I often get stopped because I am not sure how I want to quilt something, but find that if I load it on the frame, I can come up with something!  Guess it is time to get the next UFO loaded. 

Hope you had a great December!