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.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Prepping Kits

Today I'm working on prepping kits for my 
lectures.  There are a number of options.

Many guilds are very hands-on and they
request an activity as well as a lecture.  
This is a stitching kit that I offer ~ groups
have a chance to try out some hand stitching.
This is a great accompaniment to my Wool
Gathering lecture.  It takes about 15 minutes
and happens just after the lecture.

I also offer a Make & Take kit.  It is a sweet 
little ornament that can be completed in an
 hour.  Everything needed is included in the 
kit, all you need to bring is a pair of scissors.
This mini class generally takes place an hour 
or so before the meeting begins.

The kit makes a sweet little ornament
that introduces students to common
embroidery stitches and shows how to
stitch corners in the best way.

Of course, my pincushion/ornament class is
always a lot of fun.  Students can choose from 
any of the current 13 patterns.  This workshop 
should last for at least 4 hours.

For further information go to my website:

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Walk on the Wild Side ~ Cozumel

A few months ago, just before Christmas,  we 
had a few weeks without any major commitments
so we decided to go visit our Southern neighbors
down in Mexico.  We were hanging out in Playa del
Carmen and everyone said we HAD to go visit
Cozumel, it was a must see.

We headed out early one morning to catch the ferry
to Cozumel.  I love to be out and about early in the 
day and see a place wake up, cafes setting up their
outdoor tables, streets being cleaned, shops setting 
out their wares to attract customers, the locals going
off to start their work day...

Mr. Wonderful spent a lot of time researching where we
should go in Cozumel.  In this area, you don't just put
your towel down on a beach and hang out for the day.
You go to a "Beach Club", the prices and amenities and
facilities vary but they all cost money.  Personally, I like
a quiet place with a cafe that I can walk to for lunch or
 snacks and access to a clean restroom.  In the end, we
ended up in one of the most expensive beach clubs 
since Wonderful was reading lots of reviews of places 
and the information was sketchy and we figured we how
 many times will we do this?
Do you see the beach chairs in the photo above?  That 
is where the beach club maitre d took us to first.  I guess
it is considered a front row seat to the water view but you
were just about touching your neighbor in the next chair.

I opted for a cabana, the last one on the property
hoping it would be peaceful and quiet.  This club is
all-inclusive meaning you get all the food and drinks
you want by paying one price for the day.  Many of
the resorts in this area use this concept and I have 
stayed at these hotels but I am not a fan.  So the food
at this beach club was hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos,
nachos, cheesy fries, buffalo wings ~ think typical 
American bar food ~ but we could have all that we
wanted!  And then there are the drinks, I was in a 
beach cabana looking out at a turquoise sea so I ordered
a pina colada.  When I was about 3/4 done with the 
drink, another arrived, I didn't ask for it, so I drank it.
Somewhere in the middle of this one I realized I was
on my second pina colada of the day and it wasn't 
10 am yet.  That was the point when I said, "Agua
por favor".  They would have just kept them coming
all day...

At about this time, the people from the cruise ships
arrived.  This was the crowd that didn't want the 
pina coladas or more likely the tequila shots to ever 
stop at any point during the day.  All of these tables
were filled with people and nachos and cheesy fries
and empty drink cups.  And they got loud, the 'I'm
drunk in paradise, look at me!' kind of loud.  I was 
trying to read a book and Wonderful was off finding
out about snorkeling adventures when a woman a
few tables away said,
 "Bulllllsh******tttttt JeremYYYYY"
about 20 times in the space of 5 minutes.

And that's when it happened ~ I ran away...

I ran away from my all you can eat, all you can drink
"exclusive" beach club with the cabanas and hammocks
and cheesy fries and found this, the wild side of Cozumel.
This is what the beaches in this part of Mexico looked
like before the resorts and cruise ships and craziness
took over and it was blissful.  I sat right in the sand, I
soaked in the warmth from the sun, I tried to count how
many shades of blue I could see in the azure waters, I
listened to the birds and walked the coastline in peace
looking for shells.  It was heaven.

Every once in a while, groups would go by on
horses, others finding their bliss.

Someone brought me a conch shell to look at,
when that creature came out of the shell it was
frightening but it only got worse when it went 
back in and those claws clattered against the 
shell.  I suggested it needed to get back in the

Since we did pay for the food and drinks and there was 
nothing on my deserted wild beach, we would go back
to our cabana a few times during the day.  During lunch
we saw a woman actually go over the "Bullsh*t Jeremy"
table and ask them to be more respectful to other people
around them.  Late in the day, we were back in the shade
of our cabana and watched as all the cruise ship tables
left to head back to ships.  Table after table left without
tipping the waiters,  These were not kids, the waiters
were grown men with families who ran around all day
bringing endless drinks and junk food to these people.
It was a hot day and they were working so hard, carrying
trays of food through the sand, and these drunken people
gave them nothing.  It was terrible to see, just days before
Christmas and people had no thought of anyone but 
themselves.  So much for goodwill to your fellow man or
even just giving someone what they deserved for working
for you all day.  We gave our waiter a very big tip because 
we felt so bad, even though we were hardly there all day.

I don't regret this experience.  It taught me a lesson.  I
know what I like but I was swayed to go to a place that
wasn't at all me because that's what everyone does in
this area.  If I were to ever go again, I would find a quiet
beach, bring a lovely picnic and enjoy the wild beauty
of a natural setting.  Lessons learned...

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.