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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The annual clothing sewing one

After spotting this cardigan on Ebay, and deciding I “needed” it for spring, worrying about the quality and sizing, but mostly not wanting to wait the 6 weeks to receive it from China, I went in search of materials to make it myself.

Navy striped cardigan elbow patches
I found a lovely navy and white stripe that has a really good feel to it, just a small amount of lycra for just $2.99 a yard! I also picked up 1/8th of a yard of a caramel ultra-suede to use for elbow patches. I can’t tell you which exact one I bought but I do know it is available online and the lovely women who work at Field’s Fabrics will help you find the perfect one over the phone.  I chose ultra-suede over suede, or leather, because it is so much lighter weight, machine washing is a bonus.

I couldn’t find a pattern exactly like I wanted so I went with Butterick 6328. I started out using the vest version D, then adding the sleeves from version A.

B6328 review

It went together easy enough. The pattern’s directions use a traditional sewing machine, I did use a serger which made for a neat and fast finish.

The pattern I bought was multi-sized and the smallest was an 8, this correlated to a size small, in ready to wear, no matter what the measurements on the pattern envelope says! Sleeves were still too long and the shoulders a tad wide, but nothing that couldn’t be altered.

Navy striped cardigan with elbow patches @ SewfrenchOnce I finished it, I quickly realized I had more altering to do. While I have, and love, two of these long cardigans, for winter, I decided this one was just too long for spring and summer. I decided the points had to be cut off. I cut them straight off from the side seam to the point on the front edge which allowed for a perfect drape.

Sewfrench sews
The other major change I made was to remove the inseam pockets. I like pockets, but these just added bulk to the hip area, they hung in a lump. I think because the material is lightweight the pockets just hung. If a person wanted pockets, they could probably inset them as written, but then topstitch them to the front of the cardigan, preventing them from sagging to the hips.

As for the elbow patches, I drew up a pattern, cut both out with a rotary cutter, at the same time, to keep nice crisp edges.

DIY elbow patch templateTraditional, store-bought patches are 4 3/4 ” x 6 1/4″. I cut mine slightly smaller at 4 1/4″ x 6″ which was perfect for a size small and slimmed down sleeves. I first found something round that I could trace around for a 4 1/4″ circle. I then drew a rectangle of the size I wanted, (4 1/4″ x 6″), in pencil, on the backside of the ultra suede. I used the tin and traced a circle at one end of the rectangle, scooted down to the other end and drew another circle. I then used my small rotary cutter to cut along the edges, switching to a ruler for the short straight section. It worked perfectly!

I temporarily basted the sleeve seam closed, I had altering to do though, the sleeves were wider than what I wanted for this lightweight fabric. I seamed them in 2″ almost all the way to the armpits, tapering to the pits 1″, that is total measurement, so half those numbers on both the front and back edges of the sleeve.

I then pinned the patches where I thought they belonged. Once I had it where I wanted it, I opened the sleeve, transferred the measurements to the other sleeve and sewed the patches on while the sleeve was flat, topstitching, with a topstitching thread, 1/8″ from the edges.

Knockoff striped cardigan @ Sewfrench

Instant gratification and I couldn’t be happier with this one. Now for some warmer weather so I can actually wear it!

Linking up:
Fabric Tuesday
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?
Crazy Mom Quilts

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Setting Sun quilt

Sunset Quilt @ Sewfrench

Not a great day for taking pictures. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get the vibrancy, of my Setting Sun quilt, to shine. We, in Michigan, are in the gray days of winter.

A flip-flop of a real sunset because it seemed better “weighted” that way.

DSCN1302-1024x768 (2)

This one is being shipped off to a sweet, little nephew. I have read all the horror stories, and it always makes me so nervous when shipping quilts. I hope it arrives safe and sound!

Setting Sun quilt @Sewfrench
Setting Sun
Created by Sewfrench
Peppered Cottons
Machine pieced and hand-quilted
30″ x 38″

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

Posted in 2016 Completes, Design, fabric, Quilting | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

How to Mark a Baptist Fan

With a little help from my friends, I settled in on the Baptist Fan quilting design for my Garden Party quilt, I shared last week. I do mark the entire quilt top before I start quilting and ideally I mark it before I baste it. This one was pin-basted, before I marked it, because I originally thought I was quilting it a different way. Pin-basting, before marking, means you are constantly moving pins out-of-the-way, to mark. Doable, but more time-consuming.

This is how I mark mine. I created a template out of a piece of template plastic. I used a small hole punch on the 1″ marks, and an extra punch 1/4″ away from the 10th one. I use a pin to hold it in place, on my cutting mat, as I put the blue water erasable marker in each hole and swipe it back and forth. I start out at the bottom, right corner, 1/4″ in, from both sides, in the corner. Once the first fan is completed, I move across and mark the next one starting 1/4″ up from the bottom edge, putting the pin in the blue line of the outermost previous fan. I then mark until I run into the previous lines. Make sense?

How to Mark a Baptist Fan

I am loving this look, especially when quilted on as gorgeous a wool batting as Dream Wool is! I think I am going to love this batting even more than the Hobbs Heirloom Wool I used in Blowin’ In The Wind.

Garden Party quilt @ SewfrenchHere you can see how the 10, 1″ fan quilting looks with the double line on the longest, topmost one. And yes, I use multiple needles, especially when I am quilting longer rows, it keeps me from having to move my quilt around too much. It also feels like I can quilt longer before stopping to rethread!

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend II

Linking up with:
Sew Cute Tuesday
Fabric Tuesday 
Let’s Bee Social
Be sure to visit Needle and Thread Thursday Thanks for the shout out Kelly! 🙂

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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
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.


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
Needle and Thread Thursday
Let’s Bee Social

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple


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

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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!

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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!


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