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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Blue, orange, green….

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

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 48″.

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 48″

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

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

Two rainy days in a row…

You know what that means?!!
Clean bathrooms, fresh sheets on the beds and more time to sew! I got the large portions of yesterday’s Quilt Math project sewn together. Looking through the camera’s lens, I’m not real happy with the center stripes abutting each other. What are your thoughts? And it is bright!

Quilt Math @ SewfrenchCurrently 44″ x 56″. I am not sure how big I am going with this, but I think I need to take a break to cut more variety of color.

And to get out there and enjoy some sunshine and weed pulling.

The French Riviera, Crystal Lake, MIHope you make time to do something that puts a smile on your heart today!

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How ingenious of me :) 

You know I love working with scraps and when we got ready to head to the cottage, for the season, and I didn’t have a project to work on, I grabbed my Kona cotton scrap basket and headed out the door. Usually when I make a scrap quilt I just cut and sew random pieces, and sizes, and when I get down to squaring and finishing, I add pieces, as needed, to make it all go together.

After 37 years of quilting, I decided to try a new method.

I went with numbers that would easily make a 12″ block. Pieces were cut to a finished size of 2″, 3″ and 4″. I added strips finishing at 1″. With all the common sizes, I can pretty much make any layout work. Crazy how much easier this is going to be to put together!

Quilt math @ SewfrenchAnd don’t look for this to be done anytime soon. This is for rainy days with nothing else going on. We’ve been here a month and yesterday we saw our first rain. It even went as far as a lightening show out over the lake. Though we do need rain, this crazy beautiful weather can continue, quilting will still be here when the snow flies!

Linking up with:

Scraptastic Tuesday
Fabric Tuesday
Sew Cute Tuesday
Let’s Bee Social

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Best Banana Bread, ever.

To say I love banana bread is an understatement. I think I have tried every recipe out there always trying to perfect the last one.

Until now.

This is where I draw the line in the flour. No need to go any further. This is THE one. Thank you Apartment 46 for the jumping off point!

Best Banana Bread ever
printer friendly version

3 ripe bananas; 2 mashed, 1 diced
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325°.

Mash bananas in large bowl. Add the sugar and egg, mix together.
Stir in dry ingredients.
Add butter.
Mix in cinnamon and pecans.
Lightly butter an 8″ x 4″ bread pan, or two 5.75″ x 3″ pans.
Pour batter into pan. Place pan on the middle rack in the oven.
Bake for one hour and 15 minutes, give or take 10 minutes. If using the smaller pans, bake for about 37 minutes.

Eat like there is no tomorrow.

Best Banana Bread ever @ Sewfrench
When you make this, let me know if this is what you think Banana Bread should taste like, will you?!!

Posted in Cooking, Eating, Favorite Things, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Amelia approved!

I whipped this bag up, as a Christmas gift, for our youngest grand-daughter, Amelia. Her family recently took up camping and you know, if you have ever camped, you can never have enough tote bags. Well, if you travel with young ones, you know you can never have enough tote bags, as well!

Poolside Tote by Noodlehead was super easy and quick to make. I used Cotton and Steel’s, All the States, canvas fabric. I used car headliner fabric as the inner liner. It is so easy to use and makes a tote stand up beautifully. It is a bargain at between $10-12 a yard (36″ x 56″) when compared to some of the fancy products sold for about the same money, in a much smaller quantity, (18″ x 54″), for the same purpose. I have to say I have never used this other product, but I have handled it and it has almost the same feel except headliner doesn’t get creases. I buy headliner locally and usually buy 10 yards at a time. It comes in handy for all pursescomputer bags, travel bags, weekenders… Pretty much anything you want to hold a pliable shape. Tote bag by Sewfrench This was my first time using Zippers by The Yard, the “cut to length” “add the zipper pull yourself” type zippers. It was pretty easy once I googled how to do it. The only reason I bought this style, as opposed to just a regular zipper, the correct length, or cutting even shortening it to fit, is because I wanted the big pull that came with this style. Normally you would have to buy a zipper meant for a coat, with larger teeth, to get the larger pull (and run all over town trying to find the right color one at that). I am probably more particular to finding the exact zipper for the job, but that’s just me…. Learned something new when I did it this way, I learned I could get it all in one zipper and get it at the same store I bought my fabric! Poolside Tote by SewfrenchI added a second exterior pocket, between the straps, on the flip side. I may have matched the fabric up a little too well to make it easily spotted, but it is there, perfect for something you need to easily grab, without digging. Noodle head Poolside Tote SewfrenchI love the All the States fabric when combined with the linen Mochi Dots, as the accent fabric. I like how the inside is faced, it makes for much easier and neater a finish as opposed to some other methods. Then I chose Moonshine by Tula Pink, (aka Forest Frivolity in Sky by Freespirit), a camping theme fabric, as the lining. What could be a more perfect coordinate? I’ll have to get back with you on whose fabric line that is, it has slipped my mind. I couldn’t have been happier that I was able to pull this together in our small, local, newish fabric store! Love shopping local! Inside Poolside Tote bag by Sewfrench Forest Frivolity in SkyWhen I first started reading about this bag, I kept reading/hearing how HUGE is was. Six large beach towels…. Enough for a family of four….. Yadda, yadda, yadda…. I have to say, it is not as big as I imagined, based on what I was reading, and that is a good thing. It is just a nice sized bag. It is the perfect size for an 18 month old’s  weekend at Grandma’s. Noodlehead Poolside Tote Bag by SewfrenchEven plenty of room for the tennis ball she plans to take home with her. I love how she just snatched it up and claimed it as her own, as she was packing up for home!! Linking up with: TGIFF LAFF Crazy Mom Quilts Can I Get a Whoop Whoop Weekend Retreat Behind the Seams

Posted in Christmas, Crafting, Design, fabric, Finishes, Gifts, Linkys, Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

New Leaves

As for the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival, you vote by going here and then click in the upper right hand corner, of your favorite quilt picture. A red heart will appear when you have voted. Thanks if mine was a favorite!! If not, enjoy them all!!

High School graduation is always the time I think about turning leaves, turning the page, starting fresh, a new beginning.

Maple Leaf quilt @ Sewfrench

“In every change, in every falling leaf, there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.” – Amit Ray

I started this quilt exactly a year ago.

how to make a maple leaf quiltI was testing out the stems of leaves, thin and a bit thicker… Then opting to leave them off altogether.
Stems or no stems @ Sewfrench

I knew it would be a graduation quilt for my nephew Seth. Seth is a pretty special young man in this quilter’s heart.

Baptist Fan hand quilting @ Sewfrench

He is also the “only” person I have made a second quilt for, because they wore the first one out.

How to quilt a Baptist Fan @ SewfrenchThe quilt was made for him when he was born, back when I didn’t photograph half the quilts I made. I don’t remember it very well, it was worn out well before most kids are ready to give up their blankies. I do know it was very similar to the pattern, Welcome Sunshine, which I used to make it.

Welcome Sunshine quilt @ SewfrenchSeth then went on to love on his older brother’s baby quilt, another unphotographed quilt. It is a good thing his older sister didn’t get her gift, of a quilt, until her HS graduation or he may have loved it to death, too!

New Leaves @ Sewfrench

Gotta love a guy who appreciates handmade quilts!

Quilt Label @ Sewfrench
This one is chocked full of good wishes and happy thoughts for all the changes to come!

Maple Leaf quilt by Sewfrench

New Leaves
Hand-quilting category
a maple leaf variation
for Seth
60″ x 90″
Kona cottons
hand-quilted in the Baptist fan design
by Sewfrench

If this quilt so happens to be one of your favorites you can nominates it by clicking here. And copying and pasting this web pages’ address which is

Thank you!!!

“In every change, in every falling leaf there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.” – Amit Ray

Bloggers Quilt Festival Spring 2015Previous BQF entries:
Flower Garden ~ Fall 2009
Mosaic Tiles ~ Spring 2011
Shoot For the Moon ~ Fall 2011
Bubble Quilt ~ Spring 2012
Out of This World ~ Fall 2012
Thousand Pyramids~ Spring 2013
Head Over Heels in Love ~ Baby quilt ~ Fall 2013
Take A Hike ~ Art quilt ~ Fall 2013
Blowin’ in the Wind ~ Spring 2014

Also linking up with:
Crazy Mom Quilts
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop
Weekend Retreat
Fiber Tuesday
P.S. I have been told this quilt is in the book Vintage Quilt Revival Quilts. Though I have not seen the book, or the author talk about it, there is always the possibility that I have seen someone else make it, though I do not recall that either. That is not to say it wasn’t lodged in my subconscious, at some point, and if that is the case I would definitely want to give the designer credit where credit is due. I was going for an oversized maple leaf quilt and apparently Lee had the same idea as well!

Posted in 2015 completes, Design, fabric, Gifts, hand quilting, Quilting, Quotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See


“Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr  is a vivid, lyrical and thoughtful writing of a truly somber subject. The story draws you in emotionally, and the themes of war, choice, fate, and perspective are thought-provoking and powerfully rendered through characters that are fascinating, engaging and compelling. I found this one a challenging read. In some ways the prose was very dense– I often found myself needing to pause and take time to ruminate, and it required attentiveness throughout. Hence the length of time it took me to get through it.

Alternating chapters between a girl in France, Marie-Laure, who is blind and a boy orphan, Werner, in Germany, who fixes radios and is an engineering/inventing savant the story quickly draws you in.

Shy but courageous and resourceful, Marie-Laure has learned to navigate the streets of her neighborhood with the help of a wooden scale-model made by her father. He also sharpens her mind by hiding birthday gifts in intricate puzzle boxes that he carves.

Werner is sent to a special academy for talented German youth. We know the paths of Marie-Laure and Werner are set toward each other, but the slow unfolding of the somber story is handled in a way that reveals some of where it’s going but not all.

It was a bit long, but never difficult to read. Marie-Laure and Werner are both deeply inspired by science, but in different ways – Marie-Laure grows up with an intimate knowledge of natural history, shells, and sea snails through her father’s occupation. Werner has an innate ability to figure out how things work. I found his challenge – caught between poverty and opportunity through the Reich compelling. I think the descriptions of the blind girl, her loving father, and her damaged uncle were very well written.

Near the end of the book, Doerr moves the narrative to the 70s, some twenty-five to thirty years, after WWII. One particular quote that really hit home, “Every hour someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world.”, will stick with you.

As an international bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Awards, and has been named a best book of 2014 at the New York Times, Barnes & Noble, Entertainment Weekly, et al, it is one of my favorites of the year. This would make a great book club read.

Posted in Books, Finishes, Reading, Watcha reading | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant★★★☆☆

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable coming-of-age novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

Anita Diamant is best known for her book The Red Tent which I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot say the same for this one.

The novel is presented as a monologue memoir chronicling her life, in Boston, from her birth in 1900, to Jewish immigrants, to her marriage in 1927. These years are covered in great detail, but her life after her marriage is glossed over.

I didn’t feel like there was anything particularly spectacular about The Boston Girl, but there was something about the tone ,and the ease with which the story was told, that made it tolerable.

Addie, the 85-year-old narrator, thinking back on her experiences as a child and young woman at the beginning of the 20th century, is a great story-teller but the emotion of her stories is often painted too broadly to let the book feel like an intimate, personal tale. At times, I found myself rereading, not believing what I just read. For instance, the funeral scene with half-sized caskets and the mournful remembrance, “He liked peas and his first word was ball”.

This book lacks sparkle. It is a plain and predictable recounting of her life: this happened and then this happened and then this happened . . . Things happen to her family and friends but not to her. At a young age, she is recognized as someone possessing intelligence and “gumption” and so acquires mentors and a circle of sympathetic friends who support her so she is never without a job or a place to live. When tragedies occur in her family, she seems largely detached; she describes her feelings, but she seems to recover quickly. The result is one anecdote, after another, with no suspense since nothing dramatic happens in her life. And once she is married, nothing noteworthy occurs.

The one thing that does stand out is Addie’s voice. Her tone is convincingly conversational. She speaks very frankly to her 22 year old granddaughter as if she is 9. She can be witty. Unfortunately, she doesn’t offer any new wisdom; she tells her granddaughter ,“Don’t let anyone tell you things aren’t better than they used to be”. And that’s it.

I have a hard time believing this is the same author as the writer of The Red Tent. A really hard time… This book lacks substance, a week from now I will barely remember having read it…

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