31 December 2015

2015 Review

A year ago, I made a 2015 preview with a list of things I hoped to accomplish this year.  I'm happy to report that I actually completed most of them.  I was able to sew a lot and cook a lot.  I just need to make sure my artwork doesn't get forgotten.
  • Sew All 26 - E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P
  • Use a pattern - Yes!  I purchased five, and have used two - the Michelle Jacket, and the Pepper Pinafore.  I love both the finished products, and would gladly make either pattern again. 
  • Zippers and buttonholes - It took two tries at the Kaylee Jumper to get the zipper right, but that may have been because I didn't have a pattern to follow.  Both of the patterns I did use had buttonholes - still have room to improve, but I'm not scared anymore.
  • Quilt - nope. Didn't get around to this one.  But my next letter is Q.  I won a jelly roll of fabric, and a charm pack (and then ordered two more), so I have lots of inspiration.  Aaron got me a rotary cutter for Christmas, and I'm borrowing my mother-in-law's quilting ruler and cutting mat.  She told me to teach her how to quilt when I figure it out.  Quilting needs to happen.
  • Pleated Square Tunic from Shwin&Shwin for Cupcake.  I did do a version of it, but now, even at age three, she'll fit in free size 5/6 that they offer.  Looks like this one will make it on my list again.
  • The first project of the new year was a bubble dress.  This was also the start of Project: Run & Play.  I ended up sewing along with all of their projects throughout the year, except the last one.  Sounds like there will be big changes for 2016, so we'll see if I do it again.
  • Something for me - a maxi skirt, two peasant tops, and two pairs of pajama pants.
  • Paint this shirt.  Sort of.  The elephant shirt is in that style.  And there was paint - the red panda, a maple leaf, and fairy wings and I painted a shirt for me that never got photographed.
  • And even though this wasn't officially on my list, I participated in Kids Clothes Week each time as well.  
And the complete list of projects for this year:
  • bubble dress
  • 2 t-shirts (purple practice, red panda) paint!
  • yoga pants (made from three t-shirts)
  • stretchy maxi skirt for me (and Tawnia!)
  • 100+ rice-filled hand warmers with Tawnia
  • reversible knot dress x2
  • t-shirt "dresses" for Aria and Kate
  • elephant peasant top
  • knit crib sheet
  • peasant top for me x2
  • Kaylee outfit - skirt and top - surger!
  • surged tablecloth
  • green gown
  • Kaylee jumper x2 - zippers!
  • 4 reusable grocery bags - French seams!
  • birthday cupcake princess dress
  • reunion shirt
  • shirt to nightgown upcycle
  • keyhole lavender shirt
  • yellow keyhole top
  • sunglasses pouch
  • 2 diaper covers (one with ruffles)
  • Tinkerbell dress - hand-stitching! rolled hem foot!
  • Vanellope skirt (and painted leggings)
  • purple canvas pants with hand-stitched Sheepy
  • 30 minute purple pillow cover (add more overlap in the back)
  • Strawberry Shortcake hat
  • Michelle Jacket - first pattern! buttonholes!
  • mermaid skirt and top
  • football costume for my friend's dog
  • Sheepy's turtle costume
  • Frozen skirt
  • 6 pairs of pajama pants
  • 4 pillowcases
  • infinity scarf
  • Pepper Pinafore Christmas dress
  • 30+ repairs, especially to the dress-up clothes

pajammies and pillowcases

I had just enough snowman fabric for four pillowcases.
One each for Aaron's nephews, Keith (8), Tysen (5) and Andrew (3.5),
and later (so not pictured) one for Cupcake.
I won the ornament fabric in a giveaway last year (from New Zealand!)
and I had just enough for each one!
The solid is from an old sheet.
And the last one is red with white polka dots,
part of a Minnie Mouse costume I had when I was a kid.
No pattern, just compared it to a pillowcase I already had and made it up.
What did the boys do with the pillowcases when they got them?
They jumped in them and had a sack race across the living room.

I found this amazing reindeer sheet at the thrift store over the summer.
I was able to just get a pair of pants for me and Cupcake.
I traced off a pair I already had and these new ones fit perfectly. Super duper comfy.
And then I caught my husband trying them on.
So I had to make him some too. 
I was looking for more Christmas fabric, but came across this knit dragon sheet.
But he really wanted some matching ones,
and there was no way I was going to find the same reindeer sheet.
My father-in-law found a fleece double sheet set with polar bears on it.
Enough fabric for all of us!
I just traced my reindeer pants for me, added some length on Cupcake's
and traced mine again for Daddy's,
adding an inch to the length and four inches to the rise.
And there's enough leftover to make a tiny pair next year, if we need it.
Homemade pajammies are the best!

Cupcake's Christmas Dress

There was a sale at Shwin&Shwin, and I picked up three girl patterns, including the Pepper Pinafore.  It is originally a shirt, but I added 16 inches to make it a floor-length dress.  I was given the beautiful pale blue fabric, with snowy branches and holly leaves and berries all over it.  And the snow is covered with silver glitter for some sparkle.  It is incredible, and as soon as I saw it I knew it would be a fabulous holiday dress.  I also added the piping to define the waist.  Piping is easy to use, and I love the added color and texture.  I need to get more!

The real star of the show is the back of the dress.  Such a surprise splash of red!  It makes me so happy to see it.  And my second attempt at buttonholes was a success - not the most even, but it wasn't nearly so intimidating this time. 

The only thing I paid for was the pattern, and I'll definitely get more use out of it.  It was easy, and it's super cute.  Cupcake loves her dress, and didn't want to take it off.  That is always a win for me.  And for those keeping up with our Alphabet Challenge, this is letter O for over skirt and open back (P for Pinafore makes more sense, but I already have multiple projects for P).

30 December 2015

N is for Navy Neckwear

No pattern, just three pieces of fabric and made things up as I went along.  An infinity scarf, for a dear friend.  It isn't perfect - I had to hand stitch the final seam which isn't pretty - but it is fun.  It turned out a little long for an infinity scarf, and a little short for a regular scarf, but it can function as either.  AND there are three fabrics (half purple, half lavender on one side, all navy on the other), so this can go with many different outfits.  Not my best, but it was a fast, easy experiment.

2015 sewing goal review

Congratulations to Mindy on reaching 100 recipes in a year! I, on the other hand, lost my cooking mojo a long time ago and never got into a rhythm with it this entire year. I just don't care. I did recently come across this recipe for buttermilk scones (while looking for something else on that blog) that totally nailed it. Hint - freeze the butter, then grate it with the food processor to speed up cutting it into the flour. And for making "buttermilk" - one cup of milk, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and let it sit for 5 minutes.

What I did do this year was sew. On January 1, I posted this list from the WhipStitch blog as my target for the year, along with the Alphabet Challenge ... and here are the results:

1. a treat for your sewing space: I saw this post on SouleMama about rope baskets, and followed it over to where she got the idea on Maya*Made. (Backtrack through this one - there are lots of rope basket posts with lovely photography.) I don't read these two blogs very often, but really like them. A few days later, I came across some rope for piping in a box of craft supplies someone gave me last summer and decided to try it out. Neither blog has a tutorial for the baskets - they want you to buy Maya's book of course - so I found this tutorial online. It took me a little bit to get it right and I had to go over some of the sections a second time to make sure it was all secure. But they were freaking EASY!! And I LOVE them! SM and I colored on these a bit with fabric markers to jazz them up a little. They were given to a friend as a gift, but I've since made more to corral the little odds and ends that are always floating around on a sewing table.

2. something for him: Adam's flannel pajama pants were done! And ready for Christmas! But they didn't look quite right, so I pulled out his store-bought pajama pants and laid the handmade ones on top ... too short in the groin rise, and too short in the legs. They actually fit ME. But no. This fabric is from his mother's house that I got when she passed away. I will not steal his pants. Fortunately, I had doubled over the waistband by a lot, so I have room to fix it. And I found some small pieces in my scrap box that I can use to extend the legs. So they're still in the sewing room, but close enough to count for this! Ha!

3. a skirt or dress for you: Sew clothing for myself? Yeah right.

4. a quilt or blanket for charity: My first quilt top is done! I'm going to use a regular top sheet for the backing but I haven't found room in the budget yet to get the batting because I want the good stuff. When it's all finished, I will post more (and better) pictures of it. And no, this is not going to charity. This is going on JE's bed. Completing this item will go on the Alphabet Challenge and is the first thing on my Year Ten list.

5. a garment for a child: RG's baptism dress. She still says it's boring because there's no color, and I still love the white-on-white embroidery.

6. a project using only scraps: I had some ideas for this, but don't think I ever got to any of them.

7. an accessory: my mom forgot to pack her kitchen aprons when she moved to New York for a year and a half. Tawnia and I took care of that for her birthday.

8. something in an unfamiliar textile: ROPE!!! Who sews with ROPE?!?! Also, the skirt on JE's Elsa dress is a sheer-ish cotton gauze, which I'd never sewn with before. It has a deeper blue lining behind it (which I have used before), which explains the rich color.

9. a project from a printed sewing pattern: I used patterns I've already done - the Rollerskate Dress for the baptism dress (above) and the Playtime Tunic from Oliver+S for all the Christmas nightgowns. I started with the Fairy Tale Dress pattern (also Oliver+S) but it's more difficult than anything else I've ever done. I was going super-slow and had to set it aside and move some other things to the top of the priority list. It's back in the line-up now that Christmas is done. Anyway, I made 4 nightgowns - this one is a variation on the pattern because I left off the sleeves. SM wanted this particular fabric and there wasn't enough for sleeves, but it turned out great anyway because of the dropped shoulder seams. It also doesn't go clear to the floor like the other girls' but it's past her knees so she has plenty of room to grow in it. (And yes, I made only 4 nightgowns, even with 5 girls. TA refuses to wear nightgowns right now, so she got a top and shorts, noted below.)

10. a quilt or block for a swap: Since this allows for a block, rather than an entire quilt ... I tried paper-piecing in February. I love it, but it took such a long time! This whole thing is actually four smaller blocks, and each of the four was twelve pieces each. So yeah. It took awhile to make one of these flowers. It will be put into a sampler quilt or just made into a pillow. I haven't decided yet.

11. a project from a PDF pattern: Dana Willard’s shorts pattern ... eight pairs later ... Three cotton pairs for during the day, and five flannels for pajamas. The flannels so far have all been for SM and TA because they keep asking for them. The other girls prefer to wear other things to bed, but I'm sure I will eventually make them flannel pajama shorts too. I can make a pair of these shorts in under an hour - I timed myself. This little monkey got flannel shorts with a top for her Christmas pajamas, because she's silly like that.

12. a bag or pouch: Bento tote bags for SM and TA for their dance classes

13. a project you Pinned but haven’t done yet: Hooray hooray! I did use a bookmarked project! The Elsa dress on Made by Rae was my model for JE's Elsa birthday dress. It's the one and only link moved into my "projects completed" folder, but at least I got the one!

14. applique or embroidery: I made this little simple skirt for JK out of the leftover fabric from making some shorts, and it needed a boost. I like the turquoise heart on it but don't look too close - my applique work needs A LOT of practice. It's a mess.

15. something doll sized: Not yet. I had a plan for Christmas that didn't happen, but has moved to JK's birthday in March.

16. use an unfamiliar tool or machine: I used embroidery stitches on my machine for the Christmas nightgowns. Does that count? I was using something on my machine that I'm not familiar with.

17. a project using fabric you designed: this had me stumped in January and continues to elude me. 

For the Alphabet Challenge, I did only E, F, and G this year. I have H almost done. I and J are started and on stand-by. So I have been moving forward with it, just reeeeeally slowly.

 Other things I made this year in addition to this particular list:
- two simple skirts from a dolphin/beach print my mom gave me
- another Elsa dress for TA's birthday, styled similar but with different fabrics from JE's Elsa dress
- a Wizard of Oz Dorothy dress for SM for Halloween, used this tutorial from Girl. Inspired. I didn't shirr the back (but I probably should go back and try it), and I put the straps over the shoulders instead of as a halter top.
- this pattern and tutorial are what I used for TA's Christmas pajamas.
- I finally finished a couple of Christmas decor projects I started forever ago: a scallop garland and embroidered fabric gift tags.
- 30-ish items fixed from the mending box ... which still looks untouched. What the heck?!?

29 December 2015

2015 Recipe Challenge Review

Well, I did it.  I made 100 new recipes for 2015, with nine days to spare.  It was a fun challenge, which gave me the excuse to read lots of cookbooks, and spend lots of time on Pinterest.  There were plenty of days when I made food I had made before, of course, and I felt guilty for "cheating" for not making something new.  I found lots of food I liked, plenty of food my family didn't, and a few gems we all loved.

most productive month
 twelve recipes
least productive month
four recipes
most productive week
February 19-25 
seven recipes
two recipes on the same day
14 times
My husband is picky. For him a proper meal includes: meat (chicken legs, pork chops), carbs (rice, pasta, potato) and veggies (peas, green beans, broccoli).  Or he would eat nachos every day if I let him, so MANY of my new recipes were things I liked and he didn't.  Lots of days I had to tell myself "I am feeding me," and that my husband can find his own food if he doesn't like it. 
popular ingredients
16 recipes
9 recipes

new ingredients
greek yogurt
spaghetti squash
wonton wrappers

made lots of
ice cream
Overall, I'm glad I did it.  I found some great new recipes to add to our regular rotation.  And most importantly, I fed myself and my family for a year.  I was all ready to be done and call it good for 2016, but I got a slow cooker for Christmas, so time for a whole new list of recipes to try!

some of my favorites
great gluten free snack
a bit time consuming, but still talked about
if I skip the carrots, one of my husband's favorites
don't knock it until you try it - delicious
requested often by my daughter
this will be used every summer
the only way to get my family to eat zucchini
I make this at least weekly
my new go-to biscuit recipe
my 100th recipe and will now make this every Christmas

Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese - Potato and Sausage Bake
Zuppa Toscana - Maple Baked Pears
  Baked Chicken Taquitos - Loaded Potato Soup - Cracker Chicken - Baked Beef Ziti
Baked Apple Pork Chops - Cauliflower Scalloped Potatoes - Pizza Puffs
Chicken Bacon Bites - Parmesan-Crusted Stuffed Chicken - Brazilian Cheese Puffs
Chipotle Popcorn Chicken - Sunshine Muffins - Puff Shells - Peach Chipotle Pork
Hamburger Strata - Mexican-Style Lasagna - Calzones - Lemon "Cuppins"
Cauliflower Chowder - Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir Fry
French Toast Churros - Chicken Skillet with Spinach and Tomatoes
Crispy Cheddar Cauli-Tots - Mini Meatloaf Muffins - Banana Breakfast Cookie
Parmesan Potatoes and Broccoli - One Pot Spaghetti - Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Lemon Sugar Cookies - Chicken Tortilla Bake - Chocolate Avocado Pudding
One Pot Pasta and Broccoli - Peanut Butter Cookies
Breakfast Egg Muffins - Cheddar Quick Bread - Roasted Cauliflower
Baked Chicken Wontons - Almond Joy Oatmeal - Pizza Muffins - Wonton Apple Pie
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole - Sausage, Spinach & Tomato Tortellini
Italian Meatballs - Spinach Muffins - Breakfast Enchiladas - Avocado Ice Cream
Stewed Meatballs - Orange Coconut Ice Cream - Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce
Sweet Orange Chicken - Ice Cream - Broiled Beef Tortellini & Ham
Stuffed Zucchini Cups - Crustless Zucchini Pie - Parmesan Chicken Strips
Parmesan Zucchini - Chocolate Zucchini Muffins - Apple Tuna Salad - Apple Zucchini Muffins - Lemon Zucchini Tuna Casserole - Zucchini Cookies
Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash - Apple Peanut Butter Bars - Zapplesauce
Butter and Garlic Spaghetti Squash - Carrot Cake Smoothie - Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Applesauce Granola - Greek Yogurt Biscuits - Greek Yogurt Chicken
Broccoli and Ham Egg Bake - Carrot Fries - Meatball Stew
Squash and Apple Soup - Twice-baked Cauliflower - Asparagus Fries
Healthy Pumpkin Muffins - Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Greek Yogurt Banana Oat Muffins - Chicken Alfredo Spaghetti Squash
Sweet Potato Fries - Greek Yogurt Souffle - Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Cheesy Zucchini Rice - Chia Seed Pudding - Broccoli Chicken Bacon Pasta
White Chocolate Lemon Truffles - Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Bacon
Zucchini Cheese Corn Muffins - Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup - Mexican Grilled Chicken
Jell-O Popcorn Balls - No Yeast Pizza Dough - Honey Soy Chicken
Vanilla Buttermilk Pancakes - Peppermint Snowballs

16 December 2015

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you, Random Number Generator, for picking our winner...
Comment #4 - Mary Ann!
Your package is already in the mail.

And thank you, everyone who visited and commented,
for making this such a fun first giveaway for me.
Next time it's going to be even better.

Now time to finish my Christmas sewing!
Only a pillowcase and two pairs of pajammie pants to go.

09 December 2015

It's Giveaway Day! - CLOSED

I've been sewing for two years now.  And I have been given so much.
I was given my first sewing machine from my mother,
and my next sewing machine from my mother-in-law.
I have been given ridiculous amounts of fabric from friends,
and buttons, zippers, and notions galore.

I've participated in SewMamaSew's Giveaway Day twice now,
but this is the first time I've given anything, and I'm super excited!

I'm giving away over a yard of this adorable cotton snowman fabric,
plus a red zipper and some white ric-rac for fun.  
And maybe a few other little things, because I have been a winner before,
and it is fun to get surprises!

To enter, just leave a blog comment,
How long have you been sewing?
What would you make with this fabric?
What was the best prize you won?
What are you excited to give away this Christmas?
Share a favorite recipe!
Answer any question, or come up with your own.
One comment per person, open to anyone, anywhere!

Giveaway open until midnight, Sunday December 13th.
Winner will be announced by next Wednesday.
Good luck!

And while you are at it, you could win a pencil portrait
on my other blog: Mindy Creates
And be sure to enter lots more giveaways on SewMamaSew!