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 28, 2011

Mr. Wonderful & the Hat

Going Native in the Alps

A few months ago when Rob and I
were traveling through Europe I
kept noticing how handsome the men
were in their native attire.  Great hats with
feathers and brushes and good woolens
with horn buttons.

By the time we were in Salzburg,
Austria I think I had finally persuaded
Rob to get a Tyrolean hat, with feathers.

Then Rob spotted this man and
he looked smashing in his woolens
and hat, with feathers.  That convinced
him, we went hat shopping.

He got a beautiful gray hat with
feathers and cording and a
lovely Austrian badge.

When we got back to our boat,
the hat was a big hit with our
friends, he was loving it.

A few days later we were traveling
by ourselves in Germany and we
visited Schloss Neuschwanstein up in
the snowy Alps.  I had noticed two
hot, twenty-something girls were
checking out Rob but it's okay, that
happens and it doesn't bother me.

Once we are inside, waiting on line to
go on the tour, who should happen to
be right in front of us but the girls.
They both turned around and smiled
so I said, "hi".  Well, that broke the ice...
They started asking Rob if he got his
hat here, they had been noticing how
good he looked in it, it just suits him so
perfectly and on and on...
I just said," Yeah Murphy, you're
rockin' that hat ~ aren't ya?"

He smiled for the rest of the day!

I think we'd look quite
fetching in these outfits.
Maybe next time?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Civil War Remembered ~ Block 9

Birds in the Air

We are in Week 9 of Barbara
Brackman's 2011 Civil War Quilt. 
This is how I made my block.

 Cut 2 dark & 3 light 3 1/2"
squares, then cut on the diagonal.
Then cut 1 - 8 7/8" square &
cut on the diagonal.

Sew 3 light and dark squares as
shown, mine squared up to 3 1/8".

Sew units together as shown.

I found that pressing seams
as shown above is the best
option to achieve precise points.
Especially that center seam, notice
those seams are pressed in opposite
directions, they will lock together
when you pin the seam.  After
sewing this seam, I pressed the
seam open to reduce bulk.

Sew the final light triangle to
the light & dark unit.  Next you
have to trim the long edge of this
triangle, take care to leave 1/4"
from the points of the dark triangles.

Then sew the above units together
along the long edge of the triangles.

Press seam to the solid triangle
and square to 8 1/2".

Here is another one I made
using different fabrics for the
dark triangles.

This is another with
different fabrics.

Check out everyone's blocks
at Dustin's site:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Shoe Store of the Nuns & Hookers

Shopping for Shoes in Madrid

We were strolling through the
shopping streets just off Sol Square
in Madrid and came upon a shoe
store that had beautiful men's loafers.
We went in to look around and of course,
I looked at the women's shoes...
I sat down next to Rob and with a heavy
sigh, exclaimed, "they only have shoes
for nuns and hookers!"
With that in come 2 little nuns, looking at
the nuns shoes, not the hooker area.

We moved on and while out on the
street we noticed there were lots
of hookers around.  As it was early
afternoon I remarked I thought it was
sort of early for hookers to be out.  My then
14 year old son pointed out to me, it
was Siesta time.
How true, yet still a bit disconcerting
to have your 14 year old think of that!

A few days later while in the area,
I convinced Rob to get a few pair of
loafers.  We went back to this store
and as we waited for the salesman
to return with the shoes, in comes
a "lady of the evening afternoon."
We knew this since she was dressed
in canary yellow hot pants with a
matching halter top and fishnet stockings.
As the weather was turning very
Spring-like she would need those new silver
lame strappy sandals instead of her
thigh high boots.
I just looked at Rob with the
"I told ya so" look.

Oh yeah, after seeing her...
I bought the nuns shoes.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Good vs. Evil in Casa Murphy

Angel Child/Devil Child?

This is Brennan.
My Angel Child.

This is Kate.
Though I have often called her
my Devil Child,
I don't really mean that.
We are terribly alike: fiercely, but quietly
competitive, we both have a wicked
sense of humor, we are creative and artistic,
love the same music (remember I introduced
you to The Clash, Kate!), even like the
same type of men.
So to call her a Devil Child would
be calling myself the same thing.

It would be safe to say however, she has
"a bit of the Irish Divil" in her.
Strangely, I am the only one who
 has to suffer the divilments of
Katie Rose Murphy...

In our apartment in Spain there was
the most frightening looking doll that
ever existed.  After a few days of me saying,
"that doll gives me the creeps" every time
I walked past it, the divil child had a plan.
I'd pull back the covers of my bed, there
was doll, open my suitcase ~ there was
doll, open the microwave ~ yup, you
guessed it, doll.
And every time, she got me, I'd scream!
The only reason I was happy to leave
Spain was to get away from Doll.

Back at home, Rob has an absolutely
hideous Halloween mask that he has
used to frighten generations of
neighborhood children.
The Divil Child thought this would be
a great substitute for Doll.
So, I'd open my undie drawer ~ scream.
Still half asleep I'd reach for the carton
of OJ and mask would be hanging from it.
Every night before bed I get my face
wash out of the medicine chest ~ she'd
have it rigged so not only would it be
there when I opened the door but would
come flying out at me ~ more screams...

On a long car ride home last year
from Williamsburg, VA she didn't have
doll or mask, so she had to create
something to terrorize tease me with.
And Bottle was born.
She'd hit me on the head with it, slip it
into the front seat as I was sleeping
 so I'd wake up hugging it...
Almost a year later, it is still in the house
and every once in awhile, I'll find it
in my bed, in a shoe, etc.
You may ask, since you are so alike, do you
Ellen also have a bit of the Irish Divil
in you?  Ahhhh, I guess you'd have to ask
my sister how many times my behind
has been tossed out of Book Club...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Elle's Kitchen: Layered Ratatouille

Is This THE Ratatouille
From Ratatouille?

The person who gave me this recipe
said it was from chef Thomas Keller
of Napa's French Laundry Restaurant.
The rumor is, Keller was a consultant for
the film Ratatouille and that is where
this recipe came from.  I have no idea if this
is true but it's a great story, so we will
go with it.  Of course, I wouldn't know
about the film Ratatouille because I
learned a long time ago that if I go
to a children's animated film I
fall into an enchanted and magical
sleep, much like a fairy princess.
So why waste $10 on a nap?

1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup tomato puree
2 tabl. olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant (I used the graffiti eggplants)
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 large red bell pepper
sprigs of fresh thyme
salt & pepper
1/4" slices of goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray oval casserole with cooking spray.
Place casserole on top of a piece of parchment
paper and trace the outline of the base.
Cut out parchment oval and set aside.

Place the tomato puree in the bottom
of the casserole and add the sliced garlic
and the chopped onions, add one tabl. of
olive oil and season with salt & pepper.  Stir.

Slice the zucchini, yellow squash, red
pepper and eggplant into 1/8" slices.
It is best to slice the eggplant last as it
tends to discolor quickly.  I use a mandoline
slicer set to thick slice.  You don't want
paper thin slices or they will become
too mushy during baking.  I find it is
best to slice the pepper with a knife.

Pick up rounds of eggplant, yellow squash,
zucchini and pepper and layer them around
the edges of the casserole.  Then fill up the
space in the center.  Drizzle the remaining
1 tabl. of olive oil over the veggies and
season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the
leaves of the fresh thyme on top.

I usually have leftover veggies so I make a
small casserole to have for lunch the next day.

Cover with the oval of parchment
paper and gently press down.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.
The tomato puree should be bubbling
and the veggies should be cooked
but not mush.
If you make the small casserole
it will not need as much time.

I serve this on a bed of couscous
with a slice of goat cheese on top.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm So Over It!

Readjusting My Attitude

Sunday was sleet, Monday was snow
and ice, by Tuesday I was in a funk.
I hadn't hiked in 3 days and I guess
my endorphin level was low.
And so was I.

Winter had gotten the better of me.
I admit it, I was weak...

Then I read a note from Helen
about the sweltering weather
down under in Queensland.

That's when I realized, I'm going
to be complaining of the heat in
just a few months, so enjoy the
cold while I can.

I was back on the trail today,
and though it was a skin stinging
25 degrees I was thinking of summer.
And the endorphin rush wasn't bad either...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Me Time ~ February 22

Trying to Chase Away the Winter Blahs

I admit it,
 winter has gotten the better of me.
I'm tired of being cold,
I'm longing to plant pansies
and feel the sun again.

Luckily, others were productive today.

A work in progress.

A needlepunch project.

Irene is working on this quilt for one
 of her son's colleagues in Afganistan.

Dawn is packing for her
Sue Spargo class.

What did I do at Me Time?

I played with the dogs when
they came to visit,  then I
left early because I wanted to get
home to get some things done.

The first picture and this one are
a few projects I made for a class
I taught last year at the shop.
They remind me of Spring and Summer
 ~ I can't wait for better weather.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Elena Maria Likes Old Stuff

Finding Beauty in Everyday Things

As I travel through life,

I love to see grand buildings,

and beautiful pieces of art,

and fabulous fountains.

More importantly though,
I am drawn to the everyday things.

A door that has greeted the occupants
 of this house for hundreds of years.

A doorknob that thousands
of hands have touched.

I imagine the resident of this
house is waiting for their love
to arrive and can't wait to
hear the sound of the door knocker.

How many horses
 were tied up here?

The next time you're out
and about, take notice
of the little things.