Life’s a Trip

This quilt has been a long time in the making. As scraps piled up I cut into them.

Life’s a Trip quilt by Sewfrench

December 2013

I worked on it when I was between other projects. I paused for a while because I wasn’t sure what my finished size would be. Then as the quilt got bigger I dug deep into bins of fabric that has not seen the light of day in years.

Life’s a Trip quilt by Sewfrench

May 2015

May of 2015 was when I decided it would be my gift to my youngest sister Tina, when her name next came up on our rotating Christmas calendar,  2018.


Because I would be shipping this quilt, and not be there when she opened it, I marked specific fabrics with safety pins denoting those that came from our Grandma Ellis’ collection. Because Tina spent more time with Grandma than the rest of us grands, I knew she would appreciate that I included several of the fabrics she might recognize. And she did!

Hard to get a feel for the size of this one but it is king sized!

Life’s a Trip quilt by Sewfrench

And yes, I have hung curtain rods on the back of my husband’s studio where the sun is always good. This is the largest quilt I have photographed here. I had to add a longer rod as high as possible to capture this beauty. There are brackets for lap and baby quilts hidden behind this quilt. I can hang the smaller quilts without using a ladder but with this one even my 6’5″ husband had to use a ladder to help get it hung.

Life's a Trip quilt by Sewfrench

“Life’s a Trip”

also known as Trip Around The World

by Sewfrench

For my little sister Tina,

because she has taught us that life is a trip,

make the most of it!

Machine pieced, machine quilted

King size

105″ x 105″

2916 squares

many from Grandma Ellis’ collection

December 2018

Linking up with:

Posted in 2018 completes, Quilting, scraps | 13 Comments

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman

Eight Flavors by Sarah Lohman

This unique culinary history of America offers a fascinating look at our past and uses long-forgotten recipes to explain how eight flavors changed how we eat.

The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population which makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In Eight Flavors, Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.

If you consider yourself a foodie and enjoy historical documentaries add this one to your reading list, you will love this book!

The history of food, in the United States, is something I had not given much thought to. To think about our foods coming from somewhere else, the how (and why) they got here and how they became “American” is fascinating to ponder. When it comes to food, that cultural diversity has given American it’s own unique cuisine.

Sarah Lohman has been dubbed a ” historical gastronomist” for good reason. She offers up lots of interesting factoids, myth-busters and trivia in this book along with several mouth-watering recipes.

A truly fascinating topic and what a fun book club read this one would be! Maybe a bowl of chili and Spicy Zeig for the cocktail?!!

Listening to the author speak, at the Testament Museum in NYC, is a nice way to top it off!

I can’t wait for Sarah’s next book!

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Perfectly Imperfect


Perfectly Imperfect by Sewfrench

Our family’s penchant for making, and appreciating, art comes from many places. There is no doubt these two ladies had an influence in that department.

My grandmothers Floye Bryant Ellis and Mildred Wooley Taylor

These two sweet ladies are some of the strongest women I have ever known.

This pieced quilt top was given to me by maternal Grandma Ellis when we moved from my hometown, in SE Missouri, to Michigan, in 1987. She told me it was a collaborative effort between her and paternal Grandma Taylor in the 60s. It is put together with scraps of their lives, and clothing. Working closely with it, over a month, I have come to truly appreciate the labor of love that went in to it. As I quilted over each piece I had to wonder whose shirt was that? What was going on in their life when they wore it? What was going on in the Grandma’s lives as they pieced it?

It is obvious this quilt top was washed sometime before I received it. I have to wonder if that was the reason it was never finished. Who wants to risk quilting a quilt have might unravel? Just look at those loving stitches!!!

Perfectly Imperfect by Sewfrench

I repaired some of the seams but for the most part they appeared to have a wide enough seam allowance to not be a real concern.

Perfectly Imperfect by Sewfrench

It is completely hand pieced, by them, hand quilted by myself. I left all imperfections as I found them. I did replace six squares that were disintegrated, using fabric I received from Grandma Ellis’s collection.

I am pretty sure the cream, with brown diamonds, was one of my Grandaddy Sam’s church shirts. And that makes me think of all the times he came by to pick up us grandkids to take us to church, three times a week, every week. If the doors were open, he was there. And so were we!!

Perfectly Imperfect by Sewfrench

I patched a hole in the red gingham with red gingham from my Grandma Ellis fabric collection, most likely the exact same fabric. She gave me a whole tub of scraps when she downsized. She used to store it in a large suitcase under her bed!

Love the seaman with his flags!

Heirloom quilt Perfectly Imperfect by Sewfrench

In signing the quilt, I added both grandmother’s initials, and my own, my usual quilt signature. I say, give credit where credit is due.

Sign your quilts Sewfrench

This was a Christmas gift for my older brother. Another of our name drawing, creating a gift, that has happened every year for many years. Not the first time he has received a quilt, but never one with such sentimentality stitched in.

I know my older brother treasures “Perfectly Imperfect” as much as I do.

Perfectly Imperfect quilt by Sewfrench

“Perfectly Imperfect”
a collaboration between two generations
My maternal grandmother Floye Lee Bryant Ellis
and my paternal grandmother
Ruby Mildred Wooley Taylor
Hand pieced by them, hand quilted by myself
Imperfections left because they make this heirloom quilt perfect
Vintage clothing fabrics
66″ by 79″

Linking up with
Finished or Not Friday
Needle and Thread Thursday
Crazy Mom Quilts
Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop



Posted in 2016 Completes, Christmas, Family, hand quilting, Quilting, Quilts and their History, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

And to elaborate…

on yesterday’s post.

When asked, of all the books I read this year, what my VERY favorite book was, I had to ponder the question.

It’s always hard to choose THE BEST when there are so many that just come to you at the right moment!

How about I give you a few of my top picks?!!

I loved:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance a quote by the author sums it up.
“I am a hill person. So is much of America’s white working class. And we hill people aren’t doing very well….Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends, and family. – J.D. Vance

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee because genetics fascinates me.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff This book was absolutely lovely: a visit with the best of old friends. Heartwarming, enlightening, and inspirational.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik because she has led a fascinating life. She had her finger in everything!

New York by Edward Rutherfurd because he writes amazing “place” histories and we love all aspects of New York state. Last year I loved his book on Ireland.

But probably my most favorite, the one that has and will stick with me…

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi because it is a profound, emotional memoir forcing us to ask what are we doing to help each other live and die well? What should we be talking about that we’re not talking about? We’re all going to face illness and death and bereavement and difficult medical decisions; this is the voice to get us talking.

Heres to many great reads in the New year!!!

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Books I loved and not so much in 2016


“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

One thing that I learned this year is that the books I loved most were the books I heavily researched, and studied the reviews, before I invested my time on them. Generally, I saw them on several favorite book lists, not just the New York Times list.

Another  thought~ anyone can become a best seller when they have a fabulous promoter. I fell for that one a few too many times this year, resulting in quite a few mediocre books.

I use Goodreads to track my books, read reviews and find like-minded readers for recommendations, this has a proven track record. I also track them here, this is where I realized that my numbers don’t match up between Goodreads and my personal list… I’m going with the higher number because I obviously read that many!

I do “read” lots of books as audiobooks, as well. I’m not sure if everyone knows this but there are a few places to get them, and ebooks, music, , for free if you have a library card and your library subscribes to the service. Hoopla is one and my favorite, Overdrive. I can listen to my books as I sew, quilt, get in my 5 miles walking… I even convinced Peter to listen to one while we were doing some never-ending paining, this summer. He enjoyed it so much we listened to another on a road trip out west. He then went on to listen to at least one on his own. It’s so fun when we both read/listen to the same book and can discuss it. I need to get him on Goodreads, he has read a lot more than usual this year!

I do still buy books, including downloadable ones, especially if the wait list is more than five people and I ram really anxious to read it. I do still buy children’s books, quilting books, cookbooks, local authors, travel, research… books. I would hate to lose any more of our locally owning book stores than we have thus far.

~Studying did pay off, this year, I read more 5 star books and lots fewer one star, or abandoned books, this year. My goal was 80, up from last year’s 76 completed. I read 102. Last time I read this many was in Mrs. Gillette’s 5th grade class. Many years, growing up, we did not have a television. I do believe the library was my best friend.

New to me this year was participating in Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge over on Goodreads. I took part in the 24-book challenge this year, exposing me to several new authors, and challenging with some rarely read genres.

Highlights from the Challenge:

~Read a Book Originally Publishes in the Decade You Were Born: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, this was a no brainer I had just bought the Kindle version for my granddaughter. Double dipping halves the cost!

~Read a dystopian novel: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline which turned out to be a favorite though I would never have chosen this book before being challenged to read this genre.

~Read a book about Feminism:  Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay which turned out to be my least favorite book of the year. Nothing against feminism. Notorious RBG is about feminism and was a very favorite, I classified it as a biography for the challenge and not listing any one book in any two categories left me with this one…

~Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: George by Alex Gino an excellent middle-grades book. What with all this talk of who can use which bathroom this was a very timely read.

~Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia: I read the Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and found it very interesting. I have always found books about other cultures to be at the top of my favorites, right up their with memoirs!

And on to the books!

★★★★★ Books I whole-heartedly recommend from this past year:

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

New York by Edward Rutherfurd

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege, Nikola Sellmair, Carolin Sommer

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Life by Keith Richards

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

Press Here by Hervé Tullet, Christopher Franceschelli

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood

1984 by George Orwell

City of Thieves by David Benioff, Ron Perlman

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The only ★☆☆☆☆ of 2016:

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Unfinished books of 2016:

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Not she why even started reading this since the reviews were all bad. But she was an early feminist, won a Nobel Prize for Literature and passed away this year. Maybe I will attempt another of her books another year.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Only time to read so many books, I just couldn’t get through this one, no matter how many good reviews there were.

What about you?
Any fabulous books in 2016?
Looking forward to reading anything in particular in 2017?

I am looking forward to the 2017 Reading Harder Challenge and, once again,  challenging myself not to list any book in two different categories!

Are you on Goodreads? I know I am friends with a few of you, but I am always looking for new friends with great recommendations!

Wishing you many fabulous reads in the New Year ahead!!

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Never arrive with your arms swinging.

That’s our motto.
And I am constantly in search of the next best hostess gift.

We were invited to our newest neighbor’s home for a cocktail party recently. I searched, and searched, for ideas of something new to bring. We have never met this couple. They built their home in the last lot of our neighborhood, which happens to be right across our tree line, so our closest neighbors! They have just recently moved in and we are excited to finally meet them.

If they are anything like us, they don’t “need” anything else. So something  consumable is where I started my search. After reading so many comments and reviews I decided to go with The Barefoot Contessa’s Salted Caramel Nuts. Is there anything that Ina makes that is not perfectly delectable??? When gifting food, I always worry about all the different allergies… Gluten, corn,  soy, eggs… Of the top eight most common allergies nuts is the only reactor in this one. A bonus that is is quite obvious that there are nuts in it!

I followed the recipe exactly and only wish she had given a temperature to boil the sugar to. The first batch got stringy, but was delicious. The second batch wasn’t stringy but clouded a bit as it cooled. Both perfectly delicious with the perfect crunch. I just like the science of cooking. Give me a number and I will nail it every time. Cook for 5-10 minutes seemed vague. I know it depends on the size pan you use, size of your flame… but still.

Hint: Take it off on the light side of browning.

Tip two: Pay attention to your pan size for the four cups of nuts. Change your pan size if you plan on doing a half batch :/

Tip three: Keep your pan on the stovetop as you add the nuts and stir. I think cooling too fast caused the clouding. Stringing because I cooked it a smidge longer than I should have. Just guessing on both points but if any of you candy makers know for sure I would love to know the whys and wherefors.

Tip four: Watch the video “before” you start :/
I had a better feel for what I was looking for after I watched it.

Salted Caramel Nuts @ Sewfrench

I love the look of the fleur de sel sprinkling on after it was finished but still warm. It is worth it to search it out. I searched at several local shops and couldn’t find any. That is until I came home I went through my own cupboards only to find I had bought some, in France, and had never opened it! No need to search for it in France, it is the very same one that is on Amazon.

I packaged the finished product using the free labels I found at On Sutton Place. I am a new reader to Ann’s blog and she has so many neat ideas, I am happy to have found her. These were exactly what I was looking for. I printed them on cardstock, then I hiked out through the 15″ of fresh snow  (that my tall boots were not tall enough to be hiking in) and clipped a piece of fresh greenery to use. I dug up a tiny cluster of artificial pine cones amongst my Christmas wrappings. Now wishing I could remember where they came from.

I picked up this one quart container at Cost Plus World Market. I should have bought extras they were only $3.99. You never know when you are going to need a quick gift and this was the perfect container for this one. This recipe filled it with some left over for our snacking pleasure!


Wishing your heart to be full of Gratitude and Joy this Holiday Season!
Without that what do we have???

Posted in Christmas, Cooking, Gifts | 3 Comments

Carson’s Critters

This was such a fun quilt to make. Partly because I didn’t have to think about it thanks to Dani’s wonderful directions! I do not have an Accucut and I didn’t use Dani’s templates, but instead I used my own Eliza’s Backporch Drunkard’s Path templates.

Drunkard's Path templates @ Sewfrench

In the images below, you can see I didn’t use the entire template for the white part of the blocks.

Drunkard's Path templates @ Sewfrench

No need to waste the fabric that would be trimmed away anyway.

Drunkard's Path animal quilt @ Sewfrench

Stitch the pieces together with a 1/4″ seam, the colored piece on top, keeping it lifted up as you sew. The only spot were the seam allowance matters is directly under the needle.

Sewing Drunkard's Path curves @ Sewfrench

I then trimmed them to all the same size squares keeping that 1/4″ seam allowance on the white. Because of the size templates I used mine trimmed down to 6″ square.

Drunkard's Path quilt @ Sewfrench

Add sashings. Notice the different size vertical sashing for the larger turtle block. For this row I used 11.5″ x 1.5″ vertical sashing pieces. For the remaining 2 rows I cut  11.5″ x 4.25″ vertical sashing pieces.

Horizontal sashings are cut 4.25″ x the width needed.

I then added 3″ borders.

Wee Animal's quilt @ Sewfrench

I opted to machine quilt, this one.

Animal Quilt @ Sewfrench

I went with a serpentine, wavy, zigzag between 1/4″ and 1/2″ apart, similar to my original “Flower Garden“.

Drunkards Path Animal quilt @ Sewfrench

I actually got the instruction manual out for my machine and figured out how to create a custom stitch pattern for this one.

Settings for machine quilting @ Sewfrench

I like this curved stitch better than the more pointy settings I have used in the past.

serpentine quilting setting @ Sewfrench
Though they are much easier to set up!

Drunkards Path Animal quilt @ Sewfrench

It creates such beautiful texture. I just love it!

Drunkards Path Animal quilt @ Sewfrench

This one went off to the newest blessing of our oldest daughter’s college roommate.

Drunkards Path Animal quilt @ Sewfrench

There are plenty of quilt ideas for little girls, fewer for boys, this one is perfect!

Drunkards Path Animal quilt @ Sewfrench
A little hand embroidery brought the Critters to life!

Carson's Critters Drunkard's Path Animal quilt by Sewfrench

“Carson’s Critters”
by Sewfrench
Machine pieced, machine quilted
45″ square
Kona cotton
April 2015

Linking up With:
Needle and Thread Thursday
Crazy Mom Quilts
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop

Posted in 2015 completes, Gifts, machine quilting, Quilting, scraps, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Press Here by Hervé Tullet ★★★★★

Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages!”

From the first page, of Press Here by Herve Tullet, “Ready?” to the last page “Want to do it again?” I knew this was a magical book! Our nearly three-year old granddaughter was transfixed with this book. First time through the delight, wonder and sense of magic was palpable. She even pointed out her “fingerprint” on one of the red dots, something I had overlooked.

Press Here by Hervé Tullet

I would contend that Press Here is actually more interactive than many digital picture books. Touching, rubbing, shaking, blowing, tilting – can you name an app that registers all those different actions? The design of the book is also memorable. Press Here arrives without a jacket and sporting the old school Golden Book-like raw cover edges with exposed gray cardboard. The page stock is thick and glossy hopefully helping in the wear and tear department.

An interactive book for interactive times. What a fun book!

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Color Explosion quilt

It started out just playing with leftover Kona cottons on a rainy day, at the cottage.

Color explosion quilt @ Sewfrench

And because my space is in the loft I can just leave it out and add to it when I feel the need to play with fabric.

Color explosion quilt @ Sewfrench

Sometimes guests stay in the upstairs bedrooms and I find willing quilt testers. All quilts must be tested before gifting. Usually I do it myself, but I had a helper for this one. Who knows whether a baby quilt will work better than a toddler??

Color explosion quilt @ Sewfrench

We’ve got a heavy reader here.


Tried my hand again at stippling free motion quilting. Not my favorite way to finish a quilt but I feel the need to conquer this method. It is much more difficult than it appears. Just getting the machine set up, tensions properly set… And it really takes a lot of practice!


Love the backing I found for, my great nephew, Ben’s quilt. It is a Kaffe Fassett, I believe. It sure looks like his anyway! I knew I should have photographed the selvedge…

Color Explosion quilt

“Color Explosion”
an experiment in shape
Created by Sewfrench
Kona Solids
Machine pieced and quilted
37″ x 42″

Linking up with:
Crazy Mom Quilts

Posted in Design, machine quilting, Quilting, scraps | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline



“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”
― Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline surprised me. Not being into video games at all, I would have never thought that I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did. I’ve never read this type book and really enjoyed it, not because of the topic, but because of the author’s writing style. Very engaging.

The plot is a curious mix of past and future, a sort of Willie Wonka but with video games. It is about friendship, acceptance, inclusion and being courageous enough to live in the real world. The action was very exciting and there were a lot of great plot twists.

I didn’t realize this book was classified as YA, it didn’t feel like it, until somewhere around the 75% point and then something shifted. And then, and then and then… Still a 5 star in my book!

Ready Player One, the movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, is in the pre-production stage and, according to IMDB, has a tentative release date in 2018. I’m excited to see it, already!

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