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, December 31, 2011


Goodbye 2011

2011 was a fantastic year!  It was
filled with adventure, travel, learning,
progress in building the empire and
the lovely experiences of meeting new
friends and reconnecting with old friends.

I think about the hands I've held,
the places I've seen,
the vast lands whose dirt is caked
on the bottom of my shoes.
The world has changed me.
        ~ Ameilia Earhart

Me too.

I look forward to the
hopes and dreams of 2012.

Let's start the adventure...

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Circle of Friends Quilt

Civil War Remembered 2011

This is a group quilt made for
Barbara Brackman in appreciation
of her Civil War Block of the Week
featuring a weekly history lesson
and quilt pattern.

Last January Barbara Brackman
started a blog and would post a new
block each week on Saturdays at 7am.

Dustin started a Flickr site so we could
all share our progress.  After we all consulted
tech support (the youngsters in our lives) to
find out how to add photos, the circle of
friends started.  Each week we would share
our progress, our photos and our lives.

Becky came up with the idea to make a group
quilt as a thank you for Barbara.  Quilters from
Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Malaysia,
the Netherlands, Portugal and 19 states in the
USA participated.  The most popular name among
the participants was... Barbara ~ there were 4 of
them.  The Barbara Frietchie Star, Indiana Puzzle,
Log Cabin & Lincoln's Platform were the most
popular blocks ~ they each appear 3 times.

The quilt was assembled by Becky Brown and
quilted by Deb Jacobs.  We just found out from
Barbara that the quilt is being photographed to
be included in the companion book to the series.

My block is the 4th row down, 3rd from the left.
It has navy corners with a white pinwheel in the
center.  My quilt that I will make from my blocks
will be especially significant to me since I made
mine all around the world this year.  I can remember
arriving in Cairo on a night flight and while everyone
went for dinner I was hand stitching my block all
alone in my hotel room listening to the sounds
from the street of a country that had just gone
through a revolution.  What memories!

I have taken what I call my "Brackman
Bag" with me all around the world.  It is
filled with some fabric and supplies and I
have been able to finish my block each week.
Surprisingly, I have never been questioned
by a customs official about the rotary cutter.
Any quilter knows that could be a lethal weapon!

I want to say to my Civil War Family, this
quilt has "stitched" us together as friends.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Civil War Remembered ~ Block 52

Christmas Star

We are quilting along with Barbara
Brackman's 2011 Civil War Quilt.

Fabric Requirements:

Fabric A: Light Print
6 - 2 3/4" squares - Mark
a diagonal line on back.
4 - 2" x 2 1/2" rectangles

Fabric B: Red
1 - 2 1/2" square
2 - 2 3/4" squares - Mark
 a diagonal line on back.

Fabric C: Small Green Print
4 - 2 3/4" squares

Fabric D: Gold
4 - 2 3/4" squares

Fabric E: Large Green Print
4 - 2" x 2 1/2" rectangles

Make Half Square Triangles:
Pair 2 3/4" squares with right sides
together in the following combinations:

2 - A/C     4 - A/D     2 - B/C

Sew 1/4" away from each side of drawn
line, cut on drawn line and press seam to
the darker fabric.  Square to 2".

Layout units as shown and sew together
in 2 rows.  Press seams in row 1 to the left
and seam in row 2 to the right.

Sew rows together and press seam to the top.
Square to 3 1/2".  Make 4.

Make Center Outer Units:
Layout units as shown and sew together
along long edge.  Press seam to the bottom.
Square to 2 1/2" x 3 1/2".  Make 4.

Assemble Block:
Layout units as shown and sew together
in 3 rows.  Press seams in rows 1 and 3 to
 the outside and seams in row 2 to the inside.

Sew rows together.  Press final seams
open to reduce bulk.  Square to 8 1/2".

Just one more week!  What will we do?
I have no idea how I will finish this quilt!

We are celebrating Christmas here at our
American Homestead.  Best wishes for
the happiest of holidays all around the world.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What Is A Hoosier Cabinet?

Yesterday I happened to mention my
Hoosier cabinet on a facebook post.
My friend, Olivia, in Germany, asked,
"What is a Hoosier cabinet?"

Oh, Olivia!  Not only do I have a
Hoosier cabinet but, it comes with
a great story.

First, let's address what a Hoosier
cabinet is.  The Hoosier Manufacturing
Company in New Castle, Indiana made
furniture for the kitchen.  Years ago,
kitchens did not have built-in cabinets
so you had furniture made specifically
for the kitchen.  Hoosier cabinets were
a one stop cabinet, they had storage, a flour
 sifter, a bread drawer, and a work surface.

So, now we'll get to MY Hoosier
cabinet.  Years ago when my Aunt
Jane & Uncle Bob bought an older home
on Grove Street in Rahway, NJ there was
a Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen.  I first
remember this cabinet as the dress-up
cabinet that was in the garage.  As you can
see in the above photo, we all loved to
dress-up!  Yeah, that's me, front row right.

So, years go by and I grow up and
my aunt and uncle were down-sizing
and having a garage sale.  Someone
came to the sale and happened to spot
the cabinet and made an offer to buy it.
My Aunt Jane called me and asked if
I knew what a Hoosier cabinet was?
I said, of course!  They are great old
cabinets, etc. etc....

To make a long story short, my aunt
gave me the cabinet.  Rob & I scraped
off all the paint and restored it and it
has been one of our prized possessions
ever since.  At that time we would never
have dreamed that one day we would
live in Indiana.  But now, we live a half
an hour away from where the cabinet
was made.  Aunt Jane said, we brought
it home.

I have seen other Hoosier cabinets
that are much more decked out than
ours but to me they can't compared.

And it just so happens that today is
my Aunt Jane's birthday.  So please
join me in wishing Aunt Jane
A Very Happy Birthday!

I also have a Sellers cabinet
but that's another story...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Lights

Last night we went on a Luminaria Walk
 on the grounds of the Oldfields mansion.

We strolled the grounds and could see
the beautiful decorations inside.  Since
we had just toured the mansion on Sunday
we didn't go inside.

I had never been to Oldfields in
the dark before.  All lit up for
Christmas made it especially beautiful.

It was a bit rainy but not too
cold so we strolled through the
deserted gardens with only the
candles lighting our way.

In my hometown in New Jersey, everyone
would put out luminarias in front of their houses
on Christmas Eve.  It was very festive and
beautiful, especially in the snow.
I wonder if they still do that?

Then we went to downtown Indianapolis,
in the center of the city is Monument Circle.
At Christmas the monument is made into
a Christmas tree.

Beautiful stained glass windows
in the Cathedral.

There are still some great
old buildings downtown.

I hope you are enjoying the lights
of the season wherever you may be.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Elle's Kitchen: Brie en Croute

Looks Impressive but Simple to Make

In French the term en croute means
in a crust.  This appetizer will wow your
guests but only you will know how simple
it was to prepare.  You can prep this ahead
of time and pop it in the oven just before
guests arrive, making it even easier.


1 egg
1 Tabl. water
1/2 of a 17.3oz pkg. of
Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
(thaw for 30 minutes)
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
13 or 16oz. round of brie

Serve with baguette or crackers
or sliced apple or all 3!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Beat together egg & water, set aside.

Flour work surface and roll out thawed
 puff pastry to a 14" square.  With a knife
or pizza cutter, round off edges and save
scraps for later.

Spread preserves leaving a 1" margin.

Sprinkle with dried cranberries and
toasted sliced almonds.

Place round of Brie in center.
Note: Do not do it as pictured! 
I am adding this to show my
mistake.  I had a large wheel of
Brie that I wanted to finish and
thought it might work for this.
But alas, no.  There was too much
melting and leaking during the cooking
 process.  Use a smaller, entire wheel.

Brush edges with the egg & white
mixture.  Fold edges up and over brie,
sort of like wrapping a package, remove
any preserves that may ooze out as that
will burn during cooking.  Place seam
side down on a baking sheet and decorate
with cutout shapes from the reserved scraps.
Brush surface with egg mixture.

Note: If preparing ahead, refrigerate after
being placed on baking sheet.  Do not brush
with egg mix until ready to bake.  Add an
additional 10 minutes to baking time.

Bake for 20 minutes or until top is
golden brown.  Let stand for 30
minutes before serving.

Enjoy with those you love!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Brie en Croute & Kir Royales

We wanted to see Midnight in Paris together
but due to hectic schedules we missed it in the
theatres.  The film came out on DVD yesterday
and we all gathered to watch ~ of course we
needed appropriate refeshments.

We had Brie en Croute ~ brie with apricot
preserve, dried cranberries and toasted
almonds wrapped in a puff pastry crust.

And to drink ~ Kir Royales.
Creme de Kassis and Champagne.
We toasted to when we can all
spend Midnight in Paris together again.

Oh ~ and don't miss the film.
It was great!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Me Time ~ December 20, 2011

Christmas Party!

I participate in an ornament exchange.
These are the ones I made this year,
pattern to come soon...


Yeah, I'm sure she has heard
every "hooker" joke under the sun...

Dawn's gift for Kate's dorm room.

A gift for a stitching, baker ~ me!

A gift for a crazy sock wearing, button lover.

Every quilter will get this.

Today we enjoyed a party together
filled with raucous laughter, some screams,
and great friendship and that is the
real gift!

Monday, December 19, 2011

An American Homestead: Oldfields at Christmas

A Great American Country House

The kids are home from school and
before everyone starts running in
opposite directions this week, we took
a day to spend together as a family.

It is a tradition in our family to visit
Oldfields, now a house museum on the
grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

It is a 22 room mansion that was once
the home of the Lilly family.  We love
to visit at Christmas time to see the
beautiful decorations.

The trees in this room were decorated
with eggs.  They explained that during
the war years people were encouraged
to decorate using natural materials.

We have been coming to Oldfields since
our kids were little.  We will often stop
by on a Sunday afternoon to stroll through
the gardens and greenhouse.  We were lucky
on this visit to have such a beautiful sunny
day, especially after all the grey skies we have
been having lately.

As always, I love the kitchen, I guess
since I spend so much time in my own.

I hope you get to experience some of
your family traditions with the ones you love.