The Cay

The Cay (The Cay, #1)The Cay by Theodore Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Cay is an adventurous work of fiction that shows a beautiful relationship between Phillip and Timothy, the story of a blind white boy and an elderly black man stranded together on a Caribbean island during World War II. The text has themes of survival and trust. It shows Phillip overcoming his racism and being thankful that Timothy is with him. The line “Are you still black?” has to be the key turning point in the story.

I melted into this tale as Phillip and Timothy struggled to survive while awaiting rescue.  Excellent lessons on ethnicity. This would be a milder approach to Mark Twain’s similar lessons in the Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn stories.

A wonderful adventure story to add to your Christmas gift list for the tweens in your life. I think buying books for young boys is especially difficult and this one is perfect for both the boys and girls. This book makes a great read-a-loud, also. It is not too long and gives the opportunity for lots of great discussions. Hooray all around!

Another thought that occurred to me as I was reading was how many blind child hero books are there out there? Outside of the Helen Keller books, not many from what I’ve read and how cool is that?!!

This is another book that was made into a movie called The Cay. I had no idea. Looks as if it was a pretty well received movie, back in 1974, when they were still making movies for television. I have to find this one because James Earl Jones, starring as Timothy, has to be worth the search!

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Pecan Pie Muffins

I may just make these every Thanksgiving from now on. They are a perfect fall feeling snack. A perfect little snack for your fall brunch. They feel like a special treat over your plain ole muffins. Born and raised in the South, I love all things pecan.

I have read and studied so many different variations, of these muffins, that my head was spinning. I then decided to just dive right in and figure out what I wanted to serve at my house and take notes as I went.

Pecan Pie Muffins @ Sewfrench

Pecan Pie Muffins V1
printer friendly version

1 c pecans, chopped
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c flour
2 eggs
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Fill a muffin tin with muffin liners.
In a large bowl beat the eggs until foamy. Add the softened butter and mix.
Mix in the sugar and vanilla, lastly the flour and pecans and stir only until moistened.
Spoon the batter into 9 regular size muffin tins, filling each cup 2/3 full.
Bake for 18-23 minutes, 20 minutes in my oven. Don’t over bake.
Remove muffins from pans immediately.

If you can stand the wait these are a bit easier to remove from the paper liners if you let them cool completely.

Pecan Pie Muffins @ Sewfrench

Mini Pecan Pie Muffins V2
printer friendly version

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease and flour 24 mini muffin cups. Baker’s Joy would be the easy way out, it combines flour in the nonstick spray. Don’t think about only using Pam, because of the sugar content in these muffins, you will have a mess trying to get them out.

I did more than chop my pecan pieces, in this version. I put them in a mini food processor and chopped them fairly fine, not as much as ground, but because I am making mini muffins, I didn’t want huge inclusions in them. This worked perfectly well.

Now stir together your dry ingredients, brown sugar, flour and pecans.

In a separate bowl beat the butter, eggs, vanilla together until smooth. Stir into the dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Cups should be about 2/3 full, mine seemed a bit fuller.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes on until done, check them early, in case your oven runs hotter than mine. Pop them out of the the pans as soon as possible to prevent sticking. I had to run a knife abound the edges to “help” them out. Cool on a wire rack.

I have read you can grease your tins with butter, then sprinkle them heavily with sugar, as opposed to flour, and they will pop out even easier. Not sure if that is true or not, but it may lead me to try a third version! I’m betting they would have an even crunchier, caramelized crust that would be delicious, too!

Between the two versions, we settled on liking the mini ones best. You get a crisper crust, not using cupcake liners, which is delicious. The best part though could be that you get to eat two instead of just one. :)

I have not tested these using gluten-free flours, but because of the small amount of flour in them, I suspect they will work out well using one of the commercially available blends.

I suspect these will be found at my house over the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe yours, too?

Speaking of Thanksgiving, can you believe it is in less than a week?? Where has the time gone?! Yikes!

Enjoy!!

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Kansas Twister Quilt

This quilt has been around a while, too, but is finally finished. It was last spotted here, back in January. Under a year isn’t bad, for me, with so many ideas swirling in my head.

I suspect this pattern has been around since the beginning of quilting, it has enough names to have been, anyway. Whirligig, Kansas Twister, Texas Trellis, Whirling Triangles in a Hexagon…. are just a few that I  have heard.

I see others currently making it and calling it all kinds of crazy “new-fangled” names. For me, I try to stick with the traditional quilt names when possible. You?

I hand-quilted this one 1/4″ inside the twisting shapes, using Aurifil 28wt thread, leaving the little background triangles unquilted. I used Quilter’s Dream Select batting, in cotton. It creates such a nice, old-fashioned feeling quilt, but still easy to quilt through as opposed to some of the other cotton battings out there.. Every so slightly thicker than Request. I love them both.

Kansas Twister quilt by Sewfrench

This pattern is made up of 60° triangles cut from 2 contrasting strips. The higher the contrast the better, that is the key to making them pop. No match-matchy here. The strips  are cut 2 1/2″ wide then sewn together. To make a whirling hexagon, you need to cut 12 triangles, 6 matching triangles with the same color on all the bottoms, meaning as you cut, every other one will match. My  fabric is two deep, so you are only seeing half of what you need.

Cutting a Kansas Twister pattern @ Sewfrench

You end up with enough triangles for two hexagon shaped blocks, one with the light on top, one with the light on bottom. You have to decide whether you want them all in one quilt or not. It does change the look. I used them all, in this one. My goal was to use up as much old fabric as possible.

Pinwheel quilt by Sewfrench

I had some larger pieces of calico that I was struggling to use up and this turned out to be the perfect spot for them! Some hand quilters refuse to use a quilt back with seams. Obviously, I’m not one of them.

Pinwheel quilt by Sewfrench

I think it matches perfectly. I’m finally beginning to see my fabric collection evolving from the 1980s to current times. It feels good. :)

What do you call this pattern? Have you made it? Did you use matching tips (the background fabric behind the twister)? All light tips, all dark tips or some of everything?

Kansas Twister quilt by Sewfrench

Kansas Twister
a vintage inspired quilt by Sewfrench
58″ x 70″
machine pieced
hand quilted
using Aurifil 28wt thread

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Have you ever used voile for a quilt back?

Yah….

I do think I must have ADHD, or another Attention Deficit Disorder, type issue.

Another quilt I am working on was in my lap, today, during this blizzard-like weather we are experiencing and seems like we will continue to “enjoy” for the next week…..

Snowday @ SewfrenchWe woke up, yesterday, with about 7″ on the ground and another 7″ fell throughout the afternoon leaving us with 15.6″ a new November record. This is scary, for so early in the Michigan snow season. I am just hoping this is not a tease of what is to come.

Sooo…. I am working on hand quilting another project. Even when this is my view from my usual quilting spot. Ha! It really does look like ADD from here. But in my defense, I have a very active, creative mind. I am constantly having to try something out. And those quilts don’t have near deadlines, so they got put on the back burner.

WIPs at Sewfrench

 

This one is yet to be named. You are seeing the back. I am doing some outline quilting before I work up a design.

Aurifil 28 wt hand quilting @ Sewfrench I’m using Aurifil 28 weight thread on this one. That is the gray-spooled, heavier weight one, made for hand quilting. It is still much finer than many of the other hand quilting threads out there, but it does quilt up beautifully. Even with it being finer I am still not finding it any more tangle-y than any other, but I don’t ever seem to have an issue with that anyway. I wonder if it is because I have learned you should always knot, the end of the thread, where you cut your length. Thread is spun in one direction and is meant to be used in that same direction. Thread the needle with the end coming off the spool, cut your length and knot where you cut and you should be good to go.

Robert Kaufman Veronica Voile @ Sewfrench

My backing fabric, shown above, is Robert Kaufman’s Veronica Voile, in Stone. This was one of the 40% off fabrics I got at Pink Chalk Fabric’s going out of business sale. This was one of the few pieces I chose that were not your typical solids. I was happy to see it was a perfect match for the front. You can never be sure when buying fabrics online.

I have used voile, for a quilt backing, only once. It was the perfect match for the quilt top and I questioned using it for a backing, then. I wonder how it has held up…..

If you aren’t familiar with voile, the word rhymes with oil, and is a very fine fabric. One of the most luxurious fabrics you have ever caressed. It’s name is derived from the Latin work veil.  It is as light and breezy as a Sunday afternoon. It is often used for blouses, scarves or beachy, flowing curtains.

Voile usually costs a little more, but I LOVE that it is usually 54/55/56″wide. This often means I only need to buy only one length for a quilt back, as opposed to the usual 42″ wide fabric and needing to piece two quilt lengths ($$) to get the width I need. For a lap quilt, it is perfect, not seam needed, making hand-quilting even easier. “Hooray” says all the hand quilters out there!!!

This quilt feels like it will float away as I work on it. You can actually see how light it is where I have it pin basted. It looks loose, not taut, like most quilts in the process of being quilted. I will just be extra diligent with the hand on the underside to keep wrinkles at bay. It quilts like buttah’, I say. Surely I can get this one worked up quickly. I’ll share the front before the year is out. I hope….

Have you ever used voile as a quilt backing?

What’s your weather like? Are you bundled up working on something snuggly??

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Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl With a Pearl EarringGirl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable historical novel.

The main character is a servant in the house of the 17th-century Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer, and is used as the model for the painting ‘Girl with a pearl earing’. The author re-creates common life in the town of Delft with what seems to be fascinating authenticity. The smells of the marketplace, the drudgery of laundry, the subtle tensions between servants – it all comes across here viscerally. The young maid seems devoted only to her master and obeys his every wish. When he tells her to wear his wife’s pearl earrings for the painting, she agrees even though she knows it could lead to her downfall.

Who is this guy’s publicist? For a man who left no more than 35 paintings, he’s suddenly getting plenty of attention outside the museums. Perhaps it’s the paucity of information about Vermeer’s life or the small number of exquisite paintings that makes his work such an attractive subject for novelists.

This book was also made into an extremely successful 2003 movie starring Colin Firth as Vermeer and Scarlett Johansson as Griet. I might need to see if I can find it.

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Endless Chain quilt

Endless Chain’s windmill-looking block is based on a vintage pattern featured in newspapers in 1942 and throughout WWII. It was traditionally done as a paper pieced block. I’m not a paper piecer, can’t seem to get the hang of it, so I drew up my own pattern.

Hard to believe it has been a year since I talked about finishing the quilt top.  I had even gotten it sandwiched and pin basted but just recently finished the quilting.

DSC_6175I hand-quilted it in the low volume areas, 1/2″ apart, echoing the shapes. This allowed the “chains” to pop.

DSC_6180

The perfectly matching back came from straight from inventory. I bought this fabric years ago at a day after Thanksgiving half-off fabric sale. I had no idea what or when it would be used but who can resist a sale that good! Because they match so well, you might think that they were the inspiration for the quilt front and then you would be right. What better way to use up inventory that to start with the quilt backing and go from there?

DSC_6179

I really do love how these colors just pop. You can really see how the color value you choose can make or break the design. Looking at the center row, see how the diamond on the right really pops? The open diamond shapes create a chain and look so connected? The center one isn’t bad, but the one on the left…. it almost looks like a different pattern all together. This is one of the reasons I like making smaller quilts. You can never really “see” how a quilt will turn out until it is done and smaller is a perfect way to test it out. At least that is how this “Show-Me”  girl from Missouri sees it!

But that’s not to say I don’t love this quilt. It is so happy and cheery it lives on the back of my rocking chair, for now!

Endless Chain quilt by SewfrenchEndless Chain
a vintage inspired quilt by Sewfrench
60″ x 60″
machine pieced
hand quilted
2014

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Echo Quilting

Another quilt that has been in progress for a long time is in my lap today. I finally decided on how to quilt it. Spiral quilting it will be.

And yes, you can see, I had a change of plan from what I drew, to where I decided to quilt. An artist’s prerogative?!! LOL

Echo Quilting @ Sewfrench

I did think about quilting it by machine but decided that that just wouldn’t be right for this one. I settled on big stitch quilting. Primarily because the majority of this quilt is 2″ squares, so lots of seams. Also, lots of batik, hand dyes and metallics, too, making traditional hand quilting painful.

DSC_6233

To spiral quilt, this large quilt, I had to come up with a plan. I decided to quilt it with lines 3.5cm apart (looks like 4. on the ruler, but it is 3.5). I started out with a template, but quickly out grew it. I then taped my Fons and Porter chalk pencil, using packaging tape, to my 6″ ruler. I then lined the end of the ruler up with the previous line and start drawing in a circular form, copying the last line. I’m not looking for perfection in my echoing, organic lines are fine, I just feel better following a line, any line as opposed to just eye-balling it.

Have I talked before, about how much I love these pencils? They are not waxy, so they dust off, or even better wash out, beautifully. The four pack, I buy, has all the colors that work with ever project you might have. And they aren’t waxy, did I say that? A true bonus there. They sharpen in an electric pencil sharpener, fine, too. Not sure about a handheld sharpener, but I bet that will work well, too.

I once marked an entire queen sized quilt with a white quilting, marking pencil. Hand-quilted it, tossed it in the wash, feeling so proud. Pulled it out and to my horror the white waxy lines were there as plain as day! I ended up using a toothbrush on the entire quilt. That could be why I never got a good photo of that quilt!

Echo Quilting @ Sewfrench

Once the spirals got to the width of the quilt, I timed it and it takes about 37 minutes to do one line. I draw four lines at a time, enough to do in an evening, but not too many to where they brush off before I get them quilted.

Finca #16 dark pewterI am using Finca Presencia Perle Cotton #16 in Dark Pewter. I have two spools that I opted not to use on another project and am hoping this will be enough for this one. Looks like I might make it, but you never know!

Echo Quilting @ Sewfrench

My stitches are about 1/8th of an inch long with the spacing being just shy of that.

So far, so good, it looks like about another 15 hours of quilting to go. Now to find something else to watch on Netflix…

Back at it!

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