My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Book Review @ Sewfrench

★★★★★

“You will have only one story… You’ll write your one story many ways. Don’t ever worry about story. You will have only one.”

My Name Is Lucy Barton, the new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout, is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.

I highly recommend cocooning and reading this book from start to finish—it will only take a couple of hours. I will say, as this book evolved, I was saddened with how quickly I was able to read it, a testament to the fact that I didn’t want it to end. The story is written in clear, precise, prose and sparks an overwhelming sense of emotion in its seemingly simplicity of its storyline.

We can never fully know another human being–that is a universal truth, but, explored by Lucy Barton, it develops into a perfectly moving one.

I love Strout’s use of language, her use of words, her settings, the poetry in her descriptions of places I was familiar with. Needless to say, I loved the book.

I loved Lucy Barton. Although she has enjoyed a successful life she is also deeply wounded from her childhood. These wounds have affected her throughout her life but she has survived, and even thrived, all while wounded. I think so many of us can relate, in or own ways.

Some things are left for you to fill in the blanks. And you will. With your own story. I think this is one of the many reasons people will love this book. It will become personal.

“I have always believed that everyone will bring their own story to whatever book they are reading,” Strout said. “But this book, particularly, I was aware that this was more porous than my others and that leaves more room for people to bring their own experience.”

“I don’t want to press anybody’s face into things, either,” she said. “I just don’t want to be that kind of writer. People can do that and they do it beautifully. I am more interested in the essence of people.”

Go get this book.

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Flower Garden II

Flower Garden II @Sewfrench

The second version of the my Flower Garden quilt is completed and gifted to another sweet little niece.

This quilt is based on the classic quilt block, Drunkard’s Path, and set with sashing and borders of the same size as the finished blocks, in this case 4″. I went with my favorite white, Kona Snow, for the sashing. It would appear I need to look into resetting the white balance on my camera because neither the snow, nor quilt, look particularly white…

I opted to machine quilt, this one. I went with a serpentine, wavy zigzag between 1/4″ and 1/2″ apart, same as the original “Flower Garden“. It creates such beautiful texture. I just love it!

Flower Garden II by Sewfrench

Flower Garden II
a Drunkard’s Path variation
Created by Sewfrench
Kona Snow and assorted scraps
Machine pieced and quilted
40″ x 40″

Linking up with:
Crazy Mom Quilts
TGIFF
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?

 

Posted in 2016 Completes, Design, fabric, Gifts, Quilting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Garden Party

AKA Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend II

Diamonds Are A Girl's Bets Friend II

I started this (Garden) Party back in 2011.

Then it got tucked away until I could come up with a better variety of Kaffe Fassett fabrics. It takes a 6″ square to cut each one of the 4″ 60 degree diamonds.

DSC_2393

Ages ago, we took pottery classes to learn a little more about what goes in to our favorite collectable. Our instructor’s favorite line was “variety is the spice of life”. And it really is.

All squared up and ready to baste up into a quilt sandwich.

Garden Party

This one I plan on hand quilting so it still won’t be finished anytime soon.

Linking up with:
Patchwork Times
Fabric Tuesday
WIP
Needle and Thread Thursday
Let’s Bee Social

Posted in Design, fabric, Quilting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Unknown
★★★★☆

Not sure when or why this book popped up on my radar but now that I have finished it I see that there is a movie in the making. Cate Blanchett is talk of the leading role. Not sure it will be a movie worthy of theater prices but Netflix or Redox won’t be out of the question.

A satirical character study about the city of Seattle, private school moms and Microsoft’s corporate culture. This book is often billed as hilarious, maybe because the author, Maria Semple, was a writer for Arrested Development but I don’t remember more than just an occasional chuckle. The ‘comedy’ was on cruise control set at ‘amusing’. I felt it had layers of humor, and the dark underlying humor, spoke to me most effectively. This doesn’t take away from the story but I don’t want you to expect it to be one of those books that makes you think you will look like a lunatic from cackling as you read…

The author lets fly at modern parenting, Seattle, corporate culture, envy, modern life and Canadians… Bernadette is an agoraphobic architect who has lost sight of anything else in her life but her devotion to her daughter and is being driven mad by her somewhat self-enforced isolation in Seattle. As the family implodes her teenage daughter is left to put the puzzle back together and a puzzle it is. It rattles along at a fast clip, told in the form of emails, documents, police reports, letters, notes, even the transcripts of a TED presentation. The story circles around Bee Branch trying to find her mother, Bernadette Fox, who has suddenly disappeared. Kind of gimmicky but still very entertaining.

“I love you, Bee,” Mom said. “I’m trying. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.” —Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Posted in Books, Reading, Review | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Where did all the Blueberry Crumb Bars go???

Up North Michigan Farmers’ Markets are just started to bust with the summer’s produce, so when we went on Saturday I bought one of everything! The blueberries are especially large, this year, and bursting with a beautiful sweet flavor.

On our way home we swung by our friend’s home and were invited to a 50th birthday party, later in the day. I know better than to go with my arms swinging so I hurried home and did a quick inventory of my options. Cookies are too ordinary, pies are too messy, so I decided on our favorite bar-type dessert.

Blueberry Crumb Bars @Sewfrench

And these were the only dessert that disappeared.:)

I suspect you could double the recipe and use a 9″ x 13″ pan, then just watch until they are nicely browned. From experience, of baking bar type items, the time is not usually much different, between the two pan sizes.

Blueberry Crumb Bars
printer friendly version
Yield: I cut these into 18 rectangles, about 2 bites each.

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter (1 sticks or 4 ounces)
1 small egg (I mix a large egg up, in a juice glass, really well and then just estimate half)
1/8 teaspoon salt (less if using salted butter)
Zest half a lemon (before cutting!) and juice of half a lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line an 8″×8″ pan, with foil, grease well. You can make it directly in the pan, but getting them out for presentation may be an issue, or may not, I’ve never not used it.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg until you crumbly. I always aim for pea sized pieces of butter. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

Blueberry Crumb Bars @Sewfrench

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until top is golden brown. This took 60 minutes in my oven, just keep your eye on it towards the end. Cool completely, lift out the foil then remove the foil and place on a cutting board to cut into squares. I cut mine into 6 columns and each column I cut into 3 pieces for a total of 18 delicious bites.

Blueberry Crumb Bars @ Sewfrench

If you decide to give these a go, I would love if you would let me know what you think!

Posted in Celebrate, Cooking, Cottage, Dessert, Eating, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarum: The Novel of England and a visit to some of the places mentioned.


Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherfurd

★★★★☆

Sarum by Edward Rutherford is an epic novel about the area of England known as Sarum. This novel, of more than one thousand pages, spans more than 10,000 years, covering the span of English history from primitive times to modern times.

ABD Trip to Stonehenge 2015

We went through Old Sarum and Salisbury on our way to visit Stonehenge.

This was an interesting read, I started it a couple of weeks before we took our 16 yr old granddaughter to the area. I was hoping to finish it on the plane over, or bare minimum, as we were traveling between locations. No luck. I should have started it much sooner, weighing in at a hefty 2.8 pounds, I was glad to have a digital version!

It opens in primitive times, 7,500 years before Christ. There is a very primitive society of hunters with small groups banding together and living in huts. One of the hunters, his woman, and their children migrate to the south for better hunting. They meet another family, who leads them to Sarum, where they settle. Their descendants remain in the area for centuries.

This historical novel is basically the saga of five families, some direct descendants of the first families, while others descended from the ancient Romans, Saxons and other groups that came to the area and remained. As Britain changes, the families change with their fortunes coming and going. Their lives and intertwined through events and marriage.

Westminster Abbey

So many impressive churches and cathedrals all across Europe, but Westminster Abbey might be my very favorite!

Sarum explains how places like Stonehenge were built as a great temple to the gods so the great chief Krona would have a male heir. During Christian times, the great cathedral at Salisbury is constructed, filling the lifetime of Osmund the Mason. The reader watches then as Porteus, a Roman soldier who marries and remains in Sarum, constructs a Roman style villa with its rich mosaics and introduces Roman farming methods to the area, which improves the quality and quantity of the estate’s output.

ABD London

We took the time to climb to the top of Tower Bridge. What a spectacular view and, with the glass floor, you could watch the traffic beneath your feet!

The reader also sees the religious and political development of Britain through Sarum. There are the days of paganism with its human sacrifices and the building of the temples and the barrows. There is the gradual transition to Christianity with the pagans practicing their rites in secret, a practice the Protestants followed many years later. There is the burning of the heretics under Mary Tudor and the Puritan burning of witches. The different Protestant sects struggled until they all came to live together peacefully.

ABD trip Tower of London

We chatted with a Beefeater at the Tower of London where many of the royal beheadings took place.

The political development of England gradually changed from the great chiefs into a constitutional monarchy. The reader sees how the institutions like the Magna Charta, jury trials, and Parliament came into being and watches how various wars, both internal and external, are fought.

We watched a military review led by Prince Charles.

We watched a military review led by Prince Charles; this was the Trooping of Colours for the Queen’s birthday.

Through all of this change, life goes on for the five families, as they adapt and cope with their changing world in Sarum.

If you have an interest in Great Britain’s history and enjoy epic novels, I think you’ll find it fascinating.

At least you won’t have to research your next book anytime, soon!

 

Posted in Books, Photography, Reading, Travel, Watcha reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Blue, orange, green….

I made Amelia this quilt for her first birthday. It’s called orange, blue, green….

IMG_2724
Ha!
No, it is really a St. Louis 16 and is a classic patchwork quilt design. It is also an awesome tool for teaching colors, when using solids. I chose Kona because that is what my scrap baskets are full of!

I made this one with 2″ finished blocks. 5 columns by 6 rows and finishing at 40″ x 56″.

Checkerboard quilt by Sewfrench

It barely hangs over the fence to capture all the blocks. This is how I balance all those shorter quilts on the fence! Clamp-on lamps, that’s right!

Sewfrench quilt
Yellow gingham made a perfect binding for this colorful little quilt.

St. Louis 16 quiltOf course, I had to add her name in embroidery. I always embroider the recipient’s name, usually in cursive though. This was different.

Checkerboard St. Louis 16  Kona quilt by Sewfrench
St. Louis 16
a vintage quilt design
by Sewfrench
40″ x 56″
machine-pieced
hand-quilted

Linking up with:
TGIFF
LAFF
Crazy Mom Quilts
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop

Posted in 2014 completes, Birthday, Design, fabric, Quilting, scraps, Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments