2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

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! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

September 2017 Accomplishments

I set off in September with a goal to find a little time each day to do some sewing/quilting. As I've shared before, since I got back into cross-stitch, I've done less and less quilting. Moneik posted a challenge on Facebook for National Sewing Month to sew every day in September. I shared photos on Instagram under the hashtag #30daynationalsewingmonthchallenge. I won't share all the photos here, but instead will focus on those things that I was able to finish this month! 

I'll start with the favorite - if you've read my stash report, you already saw the finished top, which was a huge accomplishment for me! As I was putting it together, there was one problem block where the seams were just too short. I made these blocks quite early in my sewing days (2007-8) and should have remade it at the time, but didn't. Luckily, Moneik still had the block designs in a file and sent me the one I needed. I did a little coloring on the template, and then set out to make a new block. I forgot how long paper pieced blocks with 50+ pieces take to make! This was a two night activity, but I am thrilled with the new block and the finished top. 


Next up is my Mary Englebreit Hunter's Star - I started this one ages ago too! It is made with a layer cake and jelly roll of By Golly, Be Jolly, an older line of Mary E. fabric. As I was making it, I realized that I do not need another Christmas themed quilt right now, so decided that it will go to a friend for Christmas. She isn't someone I normally exchange gifts with, but I know she will appreciate the quilt, so I am excited to send it off to her in a few months. 

The next two items are both going to be sneak peeks, because they are gifts that will be given later in October. Help me remember to come back and show you the full pictures at the end of the month! First up is a baby quilt for a little girl due this fall. In continuation with the theme of working on old stuff, I've had the kit for this quilt for a LONG time - probably around 10 years. The people I make baby quilts for kept having boys, so I haven't had a chance to make a girl quilt. This was sure fun and I am glad to make a kit from my stash. 

Last up is my one stitching finish for the month, also a gift that will be given later in the month. Here's the sneak peek and I bet you can figure out what occasion it celebrates. It was a nice and relatively quick stitch, and I am going to finish it into a cube, maybe even this weekend. 

I also did some stitching on a wool kit, cut fabrics for another UFO that I will work on at my retreat next week, and loaded another UFO quilt and started quilting it. Overall, my September was incredibly productive and I really enjoyed making the time for some more quilting, even if it did cut into my stitching time. 

I thought I'd show you how I do my tracking of what I work on in a month. I have a calendar book that a friend has given me each year for the past 3 or 4 years and I record what I work on each time I sew. Just a quick note to remind me, and then in the bottom corners, I record the time and stash usage. Where there is a little free space in the month (at the top for September), I track  my stitching and/or crochet finishes, as I don't track my time for those activities. You can see from all the writing that I did pretty well on the challenge - in the end, I had 25 days of sewing/quilting out of 30 days in September - definitely a success! That resulted in 17 hours in my sewing room, all time well spent.

Hope you had a great crafty September - I am headed off to my retreat on Wednesday, so I will be spending this weekend doing some prep work to make sure I am ready to go. You can follow along with my retreat activities on Instagram @jenquilter, or check in again next month to see what I worked on. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September 2017 Stash Report

I had a great month of sewing and stitching, so I will share today the results on my stash and a few pictures related to the stash. I'll be back soon with the monthly list of accomplishments. I set a goal at the beginning of the month to sew every day in September, and it really did get me into the sewing room, using some stash and working on some projects that wouldn't have seen the light of day! 

I'll start with the report and then tell you a little about what makes it up: 

Stash added this month: 1/4 yard
Stash used this month: 10 1/4 yards

Stash added year to date: 12 7/8 yards
Stash used year to date: 39 5/8 yards

Net stash used: 26 3/4 yards

I made two quilt backs - one for a baby quilt and one for a wall-sized quilt that has been on my UFO list for two years. 


Baby quilt back ready for quilting
Kaleidoscope quilt back - lots of fossil ferns
 Then, after not making baby gifts for a couple years, I started my second in a month! I made a fabric book to celebrate the birth of my son's teacher's second son. The first one got a fabric book when he taught my daughter two years ago. Also in this picture is a pet bed. Over the month, I used 3 yards (between me and my mom) to repurpose ugly fabric for pets. I fill the beds with leftover batting and scraps and they are donated to the Humane Society.  

Next up was the use of some stash for borders. I made this Hourglass top at retreat 2...maybe 3 years ago and didn't have any complimentary fabric for the border. I went digging on "National Sew a Jelly Roll Day" and found a couple pieces that work well with the pastel fabrics in the quilt. I decided that I should really work on moving forward a UFO vs. starting another project made with a jelly roll! I have the backing fabric selected for this and hope to get it made soon, so that this one will be ready for quilting. 

Last up for fabric usage is my favorite. It was my UFO for Judy Laquidara's UFO Challenge and I pulled it out one night to see if I could figure out something to do that would hide the fact that half of my blocks are 1/2" too small. By floating the blocks, I was able to make them all fit and get it into a top! I absolutely love it and can't wait to get it quilted and hang it up. I think it will be a perfect quilt to hang (it is wall sized) in the winter after I take down all the Christmas decorations. 
 I did add one small bit of fabric - my mom, daughter, and I went to a small quilt show near us yesterday and I found a kit at one of the vendors that I thought was cute and will go well on our kitchen table. It makes a small 12"x12" candle mat, and I am going to take it with me on retreat, so hopefully I'll have that stash used soon. 
It was a great month for stash usage - amazing what happens when you actually spend some time in your sewing room :) Hope you had a great month with your stash too! 

I am linking up my stash report over at quiltpaintcreate - come see how others quilters have used their stash. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Summer 2017 Recipes

As I've mentioned before, we have so many good recipes to choose from now, that we only have a couple new ones each month. We are still enjoying trying new things and also enjoy the variety of options from week to week. When we started this challenge a few years ago, we were in the habit of rotating about 7 or 8 meals and our kids were smack in the middle of chicken nugget, hot dog, and fish stick meals. We've come a long way and I think they will be much better eaters their whole lives for it. 

Here are the recipes we tried this summer: 

We'll start with a good meal for hot days - chicken salad tacos from Mr. Food. This was an easy meal to make on a busy night and it was pretty tasty. It would be great with a nice salad. I don't find the recipe on the Mr. Food website, but it was a pretty straight-forward chicken salad with taco seasoning put into tacos. Quick and tasty! 

Back in June, we purchased a new grill, so I set to find several recipes that would give Mike a chance to get used to it. The first was Carne Asada from the Fix-It and Enjoy It Cookbook. It was delicious. I could have this every week! 
 Next up is a meal that I made! It came from my friend Jill, who has joined one of the home cooking sites this year. It is a ricotta tart with a blistered tomato/onion salad. It was delicious! The kids didn't care for the tart so much, but Mike and I enjoyed them and I've made the salad for lunch about 5 times since I made it with dinner! 
 The next recipe was also a test of the new grill - this time for chicken. It is a marinated Honey Chicken from our Four Ingredient Cookbook. It was very good and the way the marinade sears on the chicken is really yummy. 

The next recipe is also a good weeknight meal. We were a little apprehensive to try Salmon Quesadillas, but they were pretty good in the end. It is a mix of salmon, spices, and cheese made like a normal quesadilla. In the end, we all liked it more than we thought we would! This one was also from a cookbook, the 2000 Taste of Home's Quick Cooking Annual Recipes.  
 For the next recipe, I tried one that was given to me by my Girl Scout leader when I graduated college! As I mentioned last time, I was always a little unsure of recipes with curry, but I have found that my adult palate enjoys it. This is Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, which has some curry in it but not a strong taste of it. It was really good over rice and the leftovers were even better - I love meals like that! 

Early in September, as the weather turned colder, I looked to a pasta dish. This one is from the March 2017 issue of Cooking Light and it was great. It is Chicken Piccata with crispy garlic. I liked the crispy garlic a lot and we had a good time telling the kids about the effect of garlic on your breath. In full disclosure, Mike did say that this recipe took longer than the advertised 30 minutes, but I'd say it is worth the time! 
 The last pictured meal is also from Cooking Light - Shrimp and Black Bean Tacos. These were really tasty - shrimp is paired with rice, beans, and pico de gallo, then topped with avocado. This is another one I could eat quite regularly! It was a big hit with the kids too - they love shrimp and pretty much anything that includes beans and rice. 
The last recipe doesn't have a picture - not sure if I wasn't home and missed it or was just super hungry and forgot - it is Curried Coconut Chicken from Fix-It and Enjoy It.  As you can tell, I don't have any memory of how it tasted, so we will have to try this one again! 

Thanks for following along - my daughter didn't do much baking over the summer - a few repeated recipes, but nothing new. I'll have to work on getting her back in the kitchen this fall! 

Hope you had some great meals over the summer, and if you have a must-try recipe for the fall, please let me know! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

August 2017 - Accomplishments and Stash Report

It seems like a long time since I've checked in, although I am pretty sure that most of you who read my blog also follow my activities on Instagram (@jenquilter). I try to save a few photos each month for my blog that I don't post on Instagram, so hopefully you see something new here. 

August was a great month after all the activity in July getting ready for, going on vacation, then getting things back together once home. I still have one load of towels that hasn't been washed yet! Work was really busy upon my return, so I didn't have much time or energy in the evenings, but I did manage to sew each weekend, and I got a lot of stitching done at the couch. Here's the roundup for the month:

Quilting - I spent 6 3/4 hours in my sewing room and here's what I got done: 
1. Made back, loaded, quilted, and made binding for a Quilt of Valor that will go to the Veterans group at work (this is a fun little story - we started a "Quilt Squad" at work and have about 10 women who meet quarterly over lunch to share projects, talk about quilting, help each other, and in our last meeting, we decided to make a couple QOVs for the Veteran group). I also got it handed off to the next person and she is attaching the binding. 
2. Made a car blanket and baby bib for a baby shower at work. It was so fun to make a few baby gifts! 
3. Made a back, loaded, and quilted the leftover QOV blocks to make a table runner quilt. I also made the binding and attached it (all by machine), so this one is done! 
4. Cut out and started piecing another baby quilt. 
5. Made a badge holder for my daughter's friend's mom who is teaching for her first year (she wanted a way to keep her school ID and phone handy). 
I also used a lot of fabric in the process this month - 7 3/8 yards! Backs are great for using some fabric and it was nice to pull out a baby quilt kit that I've had for a while and finally have a reason to make it up. Here's the official stash report: 

Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 9 3/8 yards (includes 2 yards I didn't count in July)
Fabric added year to date: 12 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 29 3/8 yards
Net fabric used: 16 3/4 yards

I'm linking up my stash report with quiltpaintcreate

Stitching - I had a great month for stitching and finished three projects that have been in progress for a while and one new one. One of them is a gift for a blog-reader, so I will show a picture of it after I've gifted it. Here are the other three: 
1. Beach Day by Country Cottage Needleworks - I used the called for thread and linen. Lots and lots of stitching in this one, but I think it turned out very pretty in the end. I think this one is big enough that it deserves an actual frame, so I will be keeping my eye out to find something that works with it. 

2. Christmas Alphabet Ornament - this was a freebie from the Facebook Candy Cane Stitchers group. It is by Heart in Hand and I used called for thread and linen, except for the alphabet - I substituted a different brown since neither my mom or I had the one she charted. I think it turned out pretty cute and will make a great ornament! 

3. Merry Christmas by Gail Pan - I just looked on her website and don't see this pattern available anymore. I bought this stamped onto a piece of linen at a quilt show in Hershey, PA several years ago and I think I started it about 2 years ago! I set a goal this year to spend one session doing embroidery between each big stitching finish. I've held to that goal and got close enough this time that I decided to finish it up! I am not sure what I'll do to finish this one...maybe a pillow, or maybe a fabric frame. I had fun using Sampler Threads and some silks and even a wool thread in this one. The only thing that has me a little scared is that I need to dampen it to wash out the markings (you can see a few shadows in blue) and I am hoping not to have any of the colors run. 

4. Surprise project that I'll show you in another month or two :) 

Well, sorry for the long post, but as you can see, it was a pretty productive month. My goal in September is to follow the #30daynationalsewingmonthchallenge and make time for needle and thread each day, even if only for a few minutes. I've done well so far - three for three, two days at the machine and one doing some hand binding. I am inspired by Kate at Life in Pieces who tracks the number of days she sews 15 minutes. I'll let you know how the rest of the month goes in a few weeks! 

Hope you had a great August and are enjoying the start of fall, my favorite season!