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.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How To Go Around The World

The Second Time Around

As many of you remember, four years ago,
two pair of siblings ~ my kids and my brother
and I set off to explore the world.  We 
circumnavigated the globe, we said it was a
trip of a lifetime.  We called it The Last Hurrah
Tour because my daughter Kate had just 
graduated from high school and my son Brennan
would graduate the following year.  We thought
this would be the end of travels with the kids,
they would be going off on their own adventures.

So when I started hearing talk of another big trip
to celebrate the college graduations, I thought to 
myself, "Didn't we already have the trip of a 
lifetime?"  Did this thought stop me from joining 
in?  Oh, of course not.

And here we are, four years later and ready to do
it again.  That brought up the question of where
should we go?  My brother said to me, "When we go
back to Cambodia..."  I questioned why we would go
 back there.  He said he thought we all loved it there
and wanted to return.  This is true we all want to go
back but I wanted this trip to be about discovery, not
revisiting.  So we all talked about it and agreed, we 
should not repeat the places we have already been to.
Now, for my brother, who has traveled everywhere, 
there are many places he has been before but he will
be discovering the places with us for the first time.

People ask us how do we plan all of this?  We will be
blogging about the process of planning a big trip in 
the weeks to come ~ there are many layers.

The first step is where you want to go.  We all gave
a list with ideas and then we started building a plan 
around that.  India was on everyone's list and we 
also wanted to visit Oceania since none of us had ever
traveled there before.  Here is the itinerary:

Prague,Czech Republic
Istanbul, Turkey
Mumbai, India
Delhi, India
Jaipur, India
Pushkar, India
Agra, India
Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Ubud, Bali. Indonesia
Sydney, Australia
Auckland, New Zealand
Tokyo, Japan
Los Angeles, California, USA
Santiago, Chile
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rio de Janiero, Brazil
New York, USA

Eighteen cities, twelve countries, five continents.
The only repeat for me is Istanbul but the kids 
had never been there and it was a great deal so 
we put it on the list.

That is step one, know where you want to go.

Stay tuned for more layers... and adventures.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Now Booking!

I have been booking lectures, workshops and
retreats into late 2016.  If you or your group
have an interest, please take a look at my 
Lecture/Workshop page  on my website.  If you 
have questions, talk to me, I'm very open to
working with your group to make a fantastic
experience that fits your group perfectly.

The photo above is a pincushion I made to 
demonstrate how to use a common kitchen
item to transfer embroidery designs onto 
your dark wool.

In my Wool Gathering lecture aka Everything You
Ever Wanted To Know About Wool Applique But
Didn't Even Know To Ask,  you will learn how to
make a perfectly sized backing from cotton, flannel 
or homespun for your wool applique mats or
tablerunners.  The mat shown above is the demo
piece for this easy process ~ this also uses a common
kitchen item to make it easy for you.

When my next book is released in July, there
will be a new lecture and trunk show about 
the book.  Classes for the projects as well.

In the near future I will be taking a few trips
to western Ohio each month.  If any shops 
or guilds in the area are interested in lectures
or classes, just let me know.

And always remember, I LOVE to travel!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Easter Tree

It is Easter week and one of our little bunnies
will make it home from college to celebrate, the
other one has to work.  Growing up and getting a
job can put such a glitch in your plans for fun...
Today I gathered some branches from the crab
apple tree in the front garden and collected some
of my embroidered ornaments, some decorated 
eggs, some mini blue Christmas balls, a few wreaths
I made as a young bride many years ago and some
prisms from old chandeliers and decorated a tree for 
our dining room table.  Mr. Wonderful  and I rarely
eat in the dining room nowadays, the table seems
too big and empty with just the two of us.  We put 
a smaller table in our family room ~ another sign
of our empty nest honeymoon cottage.

Though it was chilly this morning and we still had
frost, it has turned into a beautiful Spring day.  The
windows in the studio are open and a gentle breeze 
is floating in.  I was able to go out on a hike today
and met up with this beauty.

Yesterday Mr. Wonderful took me out to lunch 
at our new favorite Indian restaurant.

It is close to Trader Joe's so when we eat there
we always stop at TJ's and find something

I left with armloads of flowers and filled the
house with blooms.  For now, we will still have
to buy our flowers but from the look of the 
daffodil bulbs that I divided last Fall, we should 
have a bumper crop in a few weeks.

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!