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, September 29, 2014

The Long Goodbye

Watching someone you love battle Parkinson's Disease
and old age in general is a heartbreaking thing.

Two weeks ago our Sweet Mum passed away.

Now we suffer through the pain and sadness from losing
her from our lives but at the same time we are happy she
 is no longer in pain.  Luckily, our kids got to come home
from college so they were able to say their last goodbye
to their beloved Grammie.  In the end, my sister and I 
cared for her like she was the child, we would tell her she
was our brave little girl and cheer for every spoonful of
food that she could eat.  We are happy that we could
make her final wish come true, she ended her days in 
her own little house, in her own little bed and she was
cared for by those that loved her.

So now it is time to try to focus on the happy memories.
In her final days we had a lot of time to reflect on the 
wonderful life she had lived.  Not always an easy life
but a life filled with love and happiness in whatever 
circumstance you were given.

The photo above was taken in 1924.  My Mum is in 
the baby stroller, at this point she was the youngest
with one more child to come. She would always talk
about her childhood in a happy way.  I think the younger
years, through the 20's, things were quite happy.

This photo was in 1936.  After the crash in 1929, the
world changed for so many people in our country and
for many of my Mum's friends.  Luckily, my grandparents
owned their home and my Pop Pop was an engineer for the
Pennsylvania Railroad, he had a job throughout the Great
Depression.  I can remember stories my Mum told of her 
friends at the time, many of their families were not so lucky,
many no longer had homes and had to move from apartment 
to apartment or their Dads left in search of work and other
Dads got sick and had to go live in sanitoriums to battle
TB in the days before antibiotics and vaccines.  Mum said
Nana would always have bread and butter or a sandwich
to give to the men that came knocking on the door looking
for food.  Times were tough but they made the best of it,
since the family could ride the train for free, Nana would
take the kids down to Asbury Park or Point Pleasant and 
they would spend the day at the beach and eat a picnic
meal that they brought from home to save money.

Mum went to St Mary's for grammar school and
then on to public school for high school.  She stayed
friends with many of her school friends for her entire

My Mum and Dad lived across the street from each other
but since my Dad's family had just recently moved there
they didn't know each other.  My Dad and my Uncle Bob
were on the same baseball team down the shore and got
to talking and realized they were from the same town and
then realized they lived just across the street from each 
other.  That is how they met, this photo shows them standing
on that street in front of the house where my Mum was born.

She graduated from high school in 1941 and by the
end of that year the US entered WWII and so many 
of the guys in her class went off to fight, as did my Dad.

Mum and her friends worked after high school and she
was a USO girl during the war.  

I think since this high school class lost so many of
their classmates in the war, those that remained took 
their class reunions very seriously.  Mum always was part
 of the planning committee up until she moved out of 
state.  She kept going to the reunions up until her 60th
which was just a few weeks after 9/11 had happened.
She flew into Newark airport and it was so confusing 
to get around due to all the new security that she said
that she wouldn't do that again.

After the war, Mum and Dad got married in a double
wedding ceremony with one of her sisters.  They had
my brother and sister early on and many years later
I came along.  We lived a happy life in our small town,
our aunts, uncles and cousins lived nearby and we had
a very close family relationship with everyone.  As we
grew older, Mum and Dad traveled more, they took
many trips including Hawaii, and Europe.  In those
days it was a big deal to travel to Europe, my Dad 
always wanted to take my Mum to Italy since he had
been stationed there in the war, so off they went.

After I got married, I moved to the Midwest.  In a
few years I had the Irish twins and my parents were
crazy in love with them.  My Dad wanted to move 
out to live near them but sadly he was ill and that
never got to happen.  Dad died 20 years ago and 
after a while Mum decided she didn't want only a 
few phone calls a week and only getting to see the
kids a few times a year, so she decided to move out 
here.  We had the luck of the Irish and the house 
behind us came up for sale and she bought it.
This picture was taken the first night Grammie was
starting her new life as a Midwesterner at Kate's dance
recital.  Our dreams had come true.

And it only got better from there.  We were able to spend
every holiday together, Mum could go to everything that 
the kids participated in, Saturday nights were always 
sleepover night at Grammie's until they left for college.
Sunday night dinners were at Gram's, Wednesday night
dinners were at our house, the kids were able to run over
and kiss Gram goodbye everyday before getting on the
school bus.  It was heaven...

So that is what we are trying to focus on now, holding
on to the good memories.  But we still miss her terribly...

So we beat on, boats against the current, 

borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Magic Carpet

This week marked the 20 year anniversary of
the day we bought our house.  This was meant
to be our starter home, we thought we'd be here
for a few years.  After my Father passed away, 
my Mum decided she wanted more than a few
phone calls a week with her only grandchildren
and she decided to move to Indiana to be near 
us.  She flew out on a few house hunting trips
but we couldn't find a place that was just right.
One day a neighbor came over to tell me the
neighbor whose property ran along my back
yard had passed away, I said I didn't want to
sound crass but what did they plan to do with 
the house?  She said they wanted to sell it right
away.  I call my Mum and told her to get on a
plane.  It was perfect and that was how our
life like the Waltons began.  My kids were able 
to see their Grammie every day, it was such a
good move.

So back to the heart of this story, after we bought
our house my Mother-in-Law told me she had 
something for me.  On one of their visits from
Michigan, my inlaws had a beautiful, huge Persian
carpet in the back of the Cadillac.  My Mother-in-Law 
said it had been her Mother's when she had her first 
house and she wanted me to have it since I had such
a lovely relationship with her Mom ~ we were both
Ellens.  I cherish it and it has been in our family room
ever since.

After my Mother-in-Law passed away we inherited
the runner pictured above.  It needed a cleaning but
I didn't want to send it out because I was afraid they
might use chemicals and I try to keep harsh chemicals
out of our life.  I remember seeing a show on PBS many
years ago about wool carpets and they said you could
wash them yourself.  I checked on youtube and found
many tutorials and finally I found the courage to try 
this on my own.  I was so afraid I might ruin it.

First I vacuumed it well on both sides. I then
saturated it with the hose, don't just get it wet, 
you want to fill it with water.  I worked on my deck 
but a concrete driveway would work as well.

I then turned it over and walked all over it like 
you were crushing grapes.  You want to get any
dirty or debris to move from between the fibers.

Then I turned it over again and added soapy
water (I used a product made for wool) in a
circular motion with a soft brush.  Once again,
walk on it like you are stomping grapes.  I did 
this on the top and bottom of the rug.

Then it was time to rinse and squeegee.  Use a
floor squeegee, not the type for windows. I
rinsed and squeegeed many times until it looked
like the rinse water was clear.

I then moved it to a dry area of the deck and
let it drain for a few hours.  Then I put it upside
down on the lawn.  This was to prevent static
that could harm the lanolin in the fibers.

Of course, Murphy's Law would have it that it
started to rain later in the day, so I brought it
into the gazebo and let it dry draped over a few
chairs.  Leave it until completely dry.

It is now in another section of our family room
and Mia the Wonder dog thinks it is just for her.
We call it her Magic Carpet.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ice, Ice Baby

We have a problem with our ice maker.  It's not
a mechanical problem, it is a problem with its
mere existence...  according to Mia the Wonder
dog that is.  She hates the ice maker.  For years,
we bought bags of ice so we could disengage the 
ice maker so it wouldn't bother Mia.

That is until this summer and my discovery of
iced coffee.  You see, up until this summer I 
had never had coffee, the smell just didn't 
appeal to me ~ at all.  
In May Wonderful and I were at International
Quilt Market in Pittsburgh.  We had worked all 
day in our booth, taken the booth apart and 
packed the car and were heading West for a 
six hour drive home.  Wonderful said he needed
some coffee so he pulled into a fast food place and
decided to get an iced coffee since we were so hot
from packing the car.  He had them put some 
flavoring in the coffee and it smelled delicious!

I took a sip and I was hooked.

So a few times this summer I drove through the 
fast food place and got the iced coffee and loved
it.  But, my family had to be honest with me, I
had a problem.  Did I mention that I have been
caffeine free for over a decade (except for any
caffeine that is found in chocolate)?  Yeah, it seems
caffeine just is not good for me.  I start talking a
mile a minute, I start coming up with all these
fabulous plans and my family just looks at me
like, "who is she"?

So now I make my own decaf coffee and pour 
it over ice and add a flavored creamer and it's
really good.  

Except for the ice...

We have started using the ice maker again 
because we are going through a lot of ice.

And that is no bueno for my puppy dog. 
I try to get her outside when I'm getting 
ice out of the bin so she can't hear it.  Or 
I'll very quietly put in piece by piece into 
the glass but she knows...  can she smell 
it?  But the worst part is when the ice 
maker decides it needs to add more ice 
to the bin.  When the ice falls in, Mia 
freezes and then looks at us and

then skulks away, looking something 
like this.  She heads upstairs and hides behind 
the bed.  We call the noise "Ghostie" because 
that is what we imagine she must think, that
there is a little ghost inside the freezer, throwing
ice cubes around.  

Poor Puppy.

And don't even ask about windy days that may
make the curtains move or thunderstorms.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Asking For Your Help

Hello readers!

I am a small business trying to become a not
so small business.  At the top of the right side
bar of this blog is the Martha Stewart American
Made Nominee badge.  Please click on it and view
my profile.  Then please click and share on 
facebook and twitter below the photos.  It is a step
to help promote a small American business to a 
larger community.  Thanks for your help!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Malabar Farm

We left New York yesterday and drove on the 
country roads looking for antique stores.  We 
found one and it was closed.  Finally, by Cleveland 
we decided to get back on the interstate and get
to move a bit faster.  We ended up at Malabar Farm.
In this photo the main house is in the center right of
the photo, we spent the night around the corner in the
house that is in the bottom left of the photo, you can see 
it just behind a long farm building.

This month marked the 24th anniversary of 
our move to the Midwest and I have looked 
at the sign for Malabar Farm for all that time
as we took car trips between NJ and IN.
It just took me a while to actually visit.  I knew 
it was the home of an author and screenwriter
but mainly I knew it was where Bogie and Bacall
were married.  We had heard earlier in the week
that Lauren Bacall had passed away and I thought
if there was ever a perfect time to go, it was now.

Malabar Farm was the home of Louis Bromfield, a
Pulitzer prize winning author and later farmer. Bromfield
grew up in the area in central Ohio but went off to seek
fame and fortune.  He had lived in New York and gained
success and in the mid 20's he and his family took a trip
to France and ended up staying for 13 years.  In this time 
he was part of the Lost Generation of writers based in 
Paris after WWI.  He was wildly successful, in those years
 he was making $300 thousand dollars a year and 
anywhere that would have been a fortune but in post 
war France he could live VERY well.

In the late 30's, Bromfield knew another war was
brewing in Europe and decided to bring his family
home to Ohio.  They bought a few adjacent farms
and built on to an existing farmhouse to create his
dream house at Malabar Farm.  The house is much
like it was when his family lived here.  It is a nice,
large comfortable house.  It is the sort of home I 
would like to visit with lots of bookshelves and
comfy chairs.

This is Bromfield's office, the semi-circular desk
was his own design, on the outside are more 

There is also a bed for Bromfield and for his dog 
in the study.  Bromfield was an insomniac and it 
is said he would only sleep a few hours a night.
Perhaps this is why he could write so much.

The Master Bedroom is just next door.
It is a pretty light filled home.

So much is just how the family left it.  These 
magazines have Bromfield's address labels
on them.

And there are bedrooms, many, many bedrooms
because the Bromfield's had many, many guests.
Funny to think so many people from all over the
world would make it to a farmhouse in rural Ohio.
Locals said you never knew who you might see 
around the area.  One day the locals were surprised
to see James Cagney working at the Farm Stand.
I guess it was a nice break from being a celebrity.

This room didn't seem to be in keeping with
the rest of the decor of the house.  The large 
patterned wallpaper with a black background
seemed garish compared to everything else.
Perhaps it was in vogue at the time.

The most famous bedroom was the honeymoon 
room that was used when Bogie and Bacall spent
their honeymoon here.  Everyone always comments
because there were twin beds!  Bromfield and Bogie
were both connected to Hollywood but that was not 
how they knew each other.  They met in New York
when they were both unknown and had a life long

In a sunroom off the dining room is a cake showing
where Bogie and Bacall cut their wedding cake.

After touring the house we were quite hungry so
we went down the road to have lunch at the 
Malabar Inn.  The name Malabar comes from the
Malabar Hills in India.  Bromfield had visited India
and had considered buying a farm there because he
fell in love with the landscape of southern India.
Instead he ended up coming home to Ohio and 
became a farmer using innovative farming practices.

The food at the Inn was delicious.  This was our
appetizer of herbed goat cheese with crostini.

The area is known as Pleasant Valley ~ it is a 
fitting name.  Bromfield believed in organic and
self-sustaining farming methods. Some credit his
writings on farming on preventing a second dust
bowl in the United States.  He was said to be the
Man Who Had Everything ~ what a lovely thought.

Then it was time for us to hit a few antique stores 
and continue West to our American Homestead.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Letchworth State Park

When we left off yesterday we were heading to 
find a forest to sleep in.  We ended up at 
Letchworth State Park.  One of Wonderful's
co-workers had suggested it but he didn't know 
where it was.  As I was reading off local camp
sites, when I said Letchworth, he said, yes, that's
the one we need to go to.
We got there late in the day and set up camp, had
some dinner and sat around the campfire.  We had
no idea about what was special about the park since
we had only seen the campground.  In the morning,
Wonderful was about to cook some eggs and bacon
when I said, "you know, I'm not really the let's eat
breakfast at the campsite kind of girl ~ I'd much 
rather eat out".  With that, Wonderful put every-
thing away and said let's go!  

In reading the park brochure, I saw there was an
inn and said let's go there for breakfast.  The
brochure described the park as the Grand Canyon
of the East.  It wasn't until we left the camping area
that we could really see the splendor of the park.

As we rounded a bend in the road we could see
a beautiful building through the trees.

We parked and started walking through the
garden to the front of the building.  If you look
closely, it looks like fog in the distance.

Coming round to the front of the house, this is
what we saw.  This had been Mr. Letchworth's
home when it was a private estate.

And the fog in the previous photo, well, no, it was
mist from this spectacular waterfall.  Now that's
quite a unique thing to have in your front yard.

The interior is filled with beautiful carvings.

I wonder what the bells are for?

We had a lovely breakfast and chatted with the
other diners as if we were all guests of the house.
The we set out for a hike to walk off the big
breakfast.  Then it was time to start our journey 

We ended up that night at Malabar Farm.