Welcome to American Homestead. I'm happy you have found my blog. Make yourself comfy and see what's been happening around here. I write about the things that interest me ~ creativity, travel, food, nature and a happy life. I'd love to read your comments.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My New Book!

Yesterday I had a fun surprise!
I was helping a customer and went to the website
of my publisher, C&T Publishing and saw the cover
for my next book is already on their website.  The 
book is not due to be released until July but it is 
available for pre-order right now, right here.
It is filled with lots of projects for wool felt, felted 
wool and quilting.  The book is a Christmas book 
but change up the colors and you can use the projects
for any time of year.  I hope you like it!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Elle's Kitchen: Bundt Pan Meatloaf

Comfort From the Storm

I was scrolling through facebook the other day and saw
that yet another snowstorm was going to hit our area at
the weekend.  A few posts later I saw this recipe for a bundt
pan meatloaf.  I have not had meatloaf for 22 years, the last
time was when I was pregnant with Brennan.  Our Mum 
used to make meatloaf as we were growing up and I always
enjoyed it, especially the next day when we would have 
meatloaf sandwiches.  Since we would have to stay home
due to the snow, I thought this would be a good stick to the
ribs sort of meal.


1 box Stove Top Stuffing mix
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the bottom of a non stick bundt pan with bacon
strips.  (Does anyone else think of My Big Fat Greek
Wedding when they see a bundt pan?)

In a bowl combine stuffing mix, onion soup mix and
water.  Set aside until water is absorbed into stuffing.

Add the 2 eggs and ground beef and combine.

Press meat mixture into bundt pan and top with
bacon slices.

Bake for 1 hour and test to be sure to have an
internal temperature of 160F.

I served it with mashed potatoes and gravy and 
mixed vegetables.  It was delicious!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day from American Homestead.
Wherever this day may find you, I hope you are
happy and filled with love!

~ Ellen

Friday, February 13, 2015

Is Mia A Hovawart?

And what is a Hovawart?

Image from Google Images

This is a Hovawart.  Until this morning I had never even 
heard of this breed of dog.  It is a German breed but they
are in the United States.  The name means estate guard dog
 and they are from the Black Forest.  When I saw the photo 
I thought ~ huh, that looks like my Mia the Wonder Dog.  

This photo is Mia.  We found our princess in a shelter
and they told us she was a Black Lab/Shar Pei mix.  We 
couldn't see any Shar Pei in her but that's the info the
shelter had.  When we took her to the vet, Dr. Sean said
she was a Black Lab/ Golden Retriever mix and that was
when I found out the dogs from the same litter can have
two different fathers ~ I never knew!  As time went on 
and her hair grew so long we just figured she was an All
American mutt, we thought there must be some Irish
Setter in her because of all her fringe.  She is an absolutely
striking animal, when we hike people are always telling me
I have the most beautiful dog.

From Google Images

This is a Hovawart puppy.  

This was my baby on the day I brought her home from
the shelter when she met her neighbors Max and Chessie
and they let her play with their toys.

I think she could be a Hovawart.  It only took me 12 years
to figure this out!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Neat to Eat (or drink): Mexican Hot Chocolate

Recently, Mr. Wonderful and I headed south for a visit
with our southern neighbors in Mexico.  For the past few
years this has become an annual visit for us.  We love
the beauty of the country, the kind and friendly people 
and the food.  We were hanging out in the seaside town
of Playa del Carmen which has become a tourist hot spot
of late but still retains the charms of the fishing village it
once was.  When in Mexico, I go local ~ I go by the name
Elena Maria, my skin turns brown and I work on my
Spanish, though to be honest, most times it is more
Spanglish where I come out sounding like a mix of Salma
Hayek and Sophia Vergara when they speak English.  (I
find that Wonderful quite likes that...)

I love learning about the Mayan culture that once 
thrived in this area and who can't love a culture that
loved chocolate.  The Maya created hot chocolate over
2,000 years ago.  Chocolate was a New World discovery,
Cortes brought it back to Europe where it became a 
luxury item for royalty.  I had never had Mexican Hot
Chocolate in Mexico and I was determined to find some.
It was a wonderful surprise to find out that a one minute
walk from our apartment brought us to Ah Cacao ~ a
Chocolate Cafe.  I wish I had found this on day one of my

Dinners are quite late when we are in Mexico so 
we had a pre-dinner dessert as the sun began to
fade.  We sat out on the sidewalk to watch the 
world go by, Wonderful had the Chocolate Maya 
made with honey and hot spices and I had the
Chocolate Traditional made with cinnamon and 
vanilla.  The cute, Mexican guy at the next table
was reading Kerouac's On the Road en espanol.
It was the oldest looking copy that I had ever seen,
I asked him what he thought of the book and he 
said he was enjoying it and planned to read Henry
Miller's The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy next.

In the cafe I bought a molinillo, a tool for frothing the
foam of Mexican Hot Chocolate.  In days of old, and 
perhaps not so old, a girl was judged to be acceptable
as a mate by the amount of foam she could produce in
her hot chocolate.  The future Mother-in-Law was the
one doing the judging...  I also picked up a bar of chocolate
soap because who doesn't want to smell good enough to eat?

Up the street, the pilgrims were gathering for 
their walk to a local shrine to honor Our Lady 
of Guadalupe.  A man named Eduardo told us
about the tradition of the pilgrimage to honor
the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of 
Mexico.  He asked us about our plans during our
visit and it turns out he works at the place we 
will be staying next week ~ small world.

At this point, Wonderful headed off to the mercado
to pick up some ingredients for his dinner creations
and I went to the beach to catch the sunset.

And the following week when we were in another
city hanging out with Eduardo we found another
chocolate cafe.  My drink was the cute bear, I think
the barista made it special for me because I ordered
en espanol even though I messed it up.  I ordered a
medium but said medio which he corrected me and
said it was mediano.  Medio was half whereas mediano
was medium.  When I looked it up half was also mitad.
So, the Spanish lessons continue...

And on a snowy day like today, I can still enjoy
some Mexican Hot Chocolate at home at Avalon.
In our grocery store in the Mexican section of the
International aisle, we can get powdered mix or a
cake of chocolate and spices.  I (surprisingly) enjoy
the powdered to the cake.  I found the cake to be a
bit gritty even after I frothed away with my molinilla.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Elle's Kitchen: Pernil

Today is my brother's birthday so in honor of his special
day I thought I would blog about a meal he made the last 
time he visited my house.  My brother lives 750 miles 
away from me but we are very close and talk all the time
about food and travel and sometimes about the crazy life
of being in show business or being an artist.  This meal was
made back in November when he was here for Thanksgiving
week.  I took pictures for the blog and then never got a chance
to write about it.  Thanksgiving week was nuts with a house
filled with people and dogs, then we had the hell week after
when Murphy's Law struck in a week that was already 
jammed with catch-up things to do, then it was off to Mexico
for a few weeks with a new computer that did not have the 
photos of the pernil, then home for Christmas and New Years
and kids home from school and then working on a few books,
designing, filling orders and just a crazy life in general.   I'm not 
sure when he got the idea in his head to make this recipe.  I'm 
pretty sure it started with running down the block between
performances on matinee days (my brother works on
Broadway) to the Puerto Rican lady that sells the great food
or from the day his neighbor Sadie was making Pernil for a 
family party when her stove caught on fire and she thought
she would have to cancel the party but he said no bring it
over and cook it in my stove.   So, now it is time for the recipe!

Buy a pork shoulder roast, he says bone-in is best for 
flavor.  Of course, in typical my brother fashion, one
roast was not enough! Put the roast in a roasting pan
and stab it all over on both sides.  I mean really take 
out all your aggressions here and stab deeply because
you want to get the flavor inside the roast.

Get some Adobo and oregano and peel and slice 
lots of garlic.

Sprinkle the roast with the oregano and some Adobo, don't 
go too heavy on the Adobo because it is salty.  Now rub it in
with your fingers and push the spices into the holes from
the knife.  Do this to both sides.

Next take all those garlic slices and push them into the
holes, get them in a deeply as possible to get the flavor
all through the meat.

Drizzle with olive oil and rub it gently, you don't want
to rub off the spices.

Cover & cook at 400F degrees for one hour then reduce heat
to 300F and cook an additional nine hours.  Your house
will smell like a garlic factory.  Place a pan beneath your
roasting pan because it may overflow with juices.

Remove the bones from the roast.

Take the roast from the pan and transfer to a 
sheet pan and shred or pull apart the meat.

Make and avocado sauce by placing an avocado with an
equal amount of crumbled feta cheese, a few shakes of
hot sauce, a handful of fresh cilantro, some parsley if you
have it, fresh lime juice and a shake or two of Adobo. 
Puree and then add a little milk just to make it creamy.
If you have a container like a hot dog or ketchup squeeze
bottle, that works perfectly but I warn you, you may be
 tempted to squirt this delicious sauce directly down your 

Serve with Spanish rice

and black beans.

This was an absolutely delicious meal and if you
have any leftover meat, make Cuban sandwiches 
the next day.

Happy Birthday Midi!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snowstorm Stitchin'

I'm hanging out in front of the fire, enjoying Mexican
hot chocolate and stitching some beautiful wools today.
Don't you just love the colors?  

I'm watching Midsomer Murders on Netflix and checking
the Weather Channel and CNN occasionally to keep track 
of Winter Storm Juno.  

I hope all my friends and family back east get to stay
home and keep warm through this huge storm.  If you
are a quilter, stitcher or knitter, then be happy to have
some time to be creative and get to work and stay off 
the roads...