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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chock-A-Block Wednesday

Big T

Fabric Requirements:

Fabric A:  Rust
1 - 4 1/2" square
8 - 2 1/2" squares - Mark
a diagonal line on back.

Fabric B:  White print
2 - 5 1/4" square - Mark
a diagonal line on back.
4 - 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles

Fabric C:  Light Brown
2 - 5 1/4" squares

Fabric D:  Dark Brown
4 - 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles

Make Half Square Triangles:

Pair Fabric B and Fabric C 5 1/4"
squares with right sides together.
Sew a 1/4" away from each side of
drawn line,  cut on drawn line and
press seam to the Fabric C.
Square to 4 1/2".

Make Outer Center Units:

Place 2 1/2" Fabric A square on left
side of Fabric B rectangle.  Sew a
thread width below drawn line and
press seam to the bottom corner. 
Trim back 2 layers of fabric to 1/4".
Repeat procedure to opposite side.
Sew flying geese unit to Fabric D
rectangle.  Press seam to the Fabric
D.  Square to 4 1/2".
Make 4.

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

Sew rows together and press
final seams open to reduce

bulk.  Square to 12 1/2".

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dutch Breakfast

Or How To Start Your Day Wherever You May Be

We often travel as a family and
with 4 or 5 in the group we have
found the most comfortable and
economical way to make the most
of our trip is to rent apartments.
When we come home from touring
we don't want to just sit on a bed,
we want living space and we eat.

Every morning we have what we
call Dutch Breakfast.  For us it is
hard boiled eggs, meats, cheeses,
some fruit, breads or pastry items
and yogurt, juices and coffee.

I loved this setting in Spain where
if we looked to the right we saw
the Mediterranean...

...and if we looked to the left we
saw the mountains of Andalucia.

And if your apartment happens to
be around the corner from the
flower market in Amsterdam,

don't forget the tulips!

Eet smakelijkj!
(enjoy your meal)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Life Is Like...

A Bowl of Cherries

Sometimes the smallest things
 can bring you joy.

Some of you may already know I
have an obsession with a collection
of Japanese blue & white bowls.

Whenever I'm in Pearl River Mart
in Soho I pick up a few.

One day Mr. Wonderful & I stopped
into our favorite little thrift shop in our
 neighborhood in NYC's Hells Kitchen.
I found the sweetest little blue & white
bowls with cherries but since that was
the first stop on our "Things we have to
do while in New York" list, I didn't buy
them because I didn't want to have to lug
them around all day.  No sooner were we
a few blocks away when the regret started
in.  I worried all day about those bowls, I
could picture someone else snatching them
up and displaying them in their NYC kitchen.
So, later that day, I sent Mr. Wonderful back
to get them.  I could describe exactly where
they were in the store and with the Luck of
the Irish, they were still there.  We use them
all the time, for our hot & sour soup lunches,
cereal for breakfast or a late night bowl
of ice cream.

But my favorite way to use them,
is to fill the bowl with ice and water
and throw in a handful of ripe cherries.
Yum!  It's heaven on a hot summer day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Alone Again

Me, Myself & I

The other day I read an article from
the New York Times about living alone.

And I realized I have had a parent,
sibling, roommate, husband or child
living with me for most of my life.  Maybe
that is why I love solitude ~ for about 3
days and why I don't know what to do
with myself after 3 days.

Every once in a while I go to New
Jersey and hang out with a cute
little black doggie.  I realized these
weeks of dog sitting are the longest
stretches of "alone time" that I've
had in my life.  This photo was taken
a few years ago, when both kids were
still at home, there were always kids
in and out of our house, the phone never
stopped ringing, etc.  And then, silence.
Well, maybe not silence, since I didn't know
how to be silent.  I talked to that poor
dog non-stop,  eventually she would get
up, look at me, I swear she rolled her
eyes, and would walk out of the room.

The last time I was in NJ I went out
with my old boyfriend, who has lived
alone his entire adult life.  I asked how
he dealt with eating, which is what I find
hardest to do alone.  He said, he rarely
sits down to eat, he just grabs something.
I can't do that, I still have to set the table
and light a candle. 

So this weekend, I'm going to be alone again.
Kate is at school, the guys are flying down to
South Carolina  and I'll be home ~ alone. 
 I like that I can stay up and work until all hours
and sleep half the day if I want, I can watch British
mysteries and not drive anyone else crazy, and
I'll be talking to my dog, but at least she is used
to me and acts like she is listening...
and it is only for 3 days.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chock-A-Block Wednesday


There are quite a few versions of
the Weathervane block, this one
is easy and looks great.

Fabric Requirements:

Fabric A: Large light print
1 - 4 1/2" square

Fabric B: Red
4 - 4 1/2" squares

Fabric C:  Green
4 - 2 1/2" squares
4 - 3 1/4" squares

Fabric D: Small light print
4 - 2 1/2" squares
8 - 2 1/2" squares - Mark
a diagonal line on back.
4 - 3 1/4" squares - Mark
a diagonal line on back.

Make Half Square Triangles

Pair Fabric C and Fabric D 3 1/4"
squares with right sides together.
Sew 1/4" away from each side of
drawn line,  cut on drawn line and
press seam to the Fabric C.
Square to 2 1/2".

Make Corner Units

Layout units as shown and sew
 together in 2 rows.  Press seams
 toward the solid 2 1/2" squares.

Sew rows together and press
seam open to reduce bulk.
Square to 4 1/2".
Make 4.

Make Outer Center Units

Place a Fabric D 2 1/2" square in
the corner of a Fabric B 4 1/2"
square and sew a thread width
away from the drawn line on the
side near the corner. 

 Press seam toward the corner.

Trim back 2 layers of fabric to 1/4".

Repeat process on the other side.

Square to 4 1/2".  Make 4.

Assemble Block

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

Sew rows together.  Square to 12 1/2".

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Paczki Day!

And Also Fat  Tuesday!

Even though I have ancestors from
eastern Europe, including some from
Poland, I had never heard of the Paczki
until I moved to the American Mid-West.

A Paczki is a deep fried piece of dough with
a sweet filling, much like a jelly doughnut.
It can be glazed or covered with powdered
sugar.   In some areas of the USA paczki
are very popular, with people lining up
 outside bakeries to get theirs.  The paczki
has been in Poland since the Middle Ages.
Traditionally they were made to use up the
sugar, eggs and fruit before the Lenten fast
that begins on Ash Wednesday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Road Trip: Indiana University ~ Bloomington

On the road again...

First of all, let me apologize for the
poor picture quality, in typical Murphy's
Law fashion, my battery died in my camera
as soon as I got there, my back-up camera
was at home, so I had to use my ipod.  Sorry...

Today I went to visit Indiana University
with Brennan.  IU is settled in the softly
rolling hills of southern Indiana, it is a
beautiful area.

When I think of what a great university
should look like ~ this is it.  There are
beautiful old limestone and brick buildings
with brick walkways through a wooded
campus under that gorgeous American
mid-western blue sky.  I love how much
of the campus is closed to vehicles.

The architecture is lovely.

We started with lunch at the Tudor Room.
It was like having lunch in the Great
Hall at Hogwart's.

Brennan then went off to his
research scholarship interview.

I took advantage of the fantastic
weather and walked around campus.

We still don't know where Brennan
will choose to go to school but I
wouldn't mind visiting this campus again.

Of course, that would mean we
would be a house divided ~ yikes!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Elle's Kitchen: Irish Tea Bread

A Little Sweet Before the Fast

This Tuesday is Fat Tuesday, the last
hurrah before the fast of Lent.  I thought
a little sweet was appropriate.  My cousin
Suzie sent me this recipe, it is from the
Farmers' Almanac but we both have
tweaked it a bit to make it healthier.


1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teas. vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
2 teas. baking powder
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 cup 1/2% milk
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Cream the butter and the sugar
until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs, 1 at a time,
then stir in the vanilla.

Combine flour, baking powder and
salt.  Add gradually to the butter
mixture, alternating with the milk.
If too stiff add a bit more milk.

Spread in pan and bake for 30
minutes or until toothpick inserted
in center comes out clean.
Note: Mine took 40 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan
for 1 hour.  Then turn out on to
serving platter.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving.


Thanks Suzie!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

East, West, Home's Best

Why Go Out When Home Is So Fun?

Now that Mr. Wonderful & I are in
the "Honeymoon Cottage" stage of
our lives, (some may call it empty
nest), most Friday nights we head out
to a Mexican restaurant.  Mr. W usually
doesn't get home until after 9 on Fridays
and we find going out for a Margarita and
some nibbles is a great way to say, "whew,
we made it through another week" and to
plan what is in store for our weekend.
We both have jobs that usually include work
over the weekends so Fridays are a special
time to relax.  This weekend Kate is coming
home from Purdue and I asked her if she
wanted to go out for Mexican or stay home.
Without question she said ~ Home!
So I figured why not have a little Friday
Night Margaritaville party? 
I made homemade guacamole, mini sweet
peppers stuffed with whipped cream cheese
and topped with fig preserves and a good
old-fashioned 9 layer dip (think TGI Fridays
in the 80's).  The prep only took about an hour,
when Mr. W came home he became the bartender.
(He was a TGI Friday's bartender, in the 80's).
Gather a group of fun people, add a little toasting,
a little noshing and watch Paris When it Sizzles.
For over a decade, our kids spent every Saturday
night at Grammie's house and Mr. W & I had date
night.  For a number of years we went to plays,
concerts, dinners out, every Saturday.  Finally, one
of us said, can we stay home this week?  And the
other said, that would be great.  The new Saturday
night tradition of making a homemade feast began
and we still do this and after the meal we always
say, we couldn't have this good a meal out.
Home is best!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Suffolk Puff

I would never claim to know eveything
about crafts.  In fact with my addiction to,
obsession with, recent introduction to
Pinterest, I learn at least one new thing
everyday.  And that's where I read about
the Suffolk Puff.  Many of you may know
it as a Yo-yo, that's what I've always called
it, I have heard it referred to as a rosette
as well, but a Suffolk Puff ~ never!

When I was a little girl, I'm thinking about
7 or 8, we were at our relatives house for
a holiday.  My older cousin had a girlfriend
over who had on a vest somewhat like the
one in the middle in the pattern above.  Even
at that age I had an interest in fashion and
asked her about it and she told me she made
it.  Wow!  I told my Mom on the ride home
and she said, 'Oh yeah, it was made from
yo-yo's, we used to make them when we were
young."  I felt like my Mother held the secrets
to the universe and I wanted her to share.
She did, and my life with the yo-yo began.

I still use yo-yo's.  Here they are in my
Pursuit of Scrappiness quilt pattern.

They are a big part of my
All Stars pattern.

They can be used in crafts.

They could make an interesting garland
for an old-fashioned Christmas tree.

You can stuff them to make jewelry. 
This was going to be a necklace or
a bracelet and the first photo showed
a brooch.

How do you make them, you may ask?
Nowadays, you can buy a tool to make
them and I use this when I want the
opening to have a finished edge.  These
tools come in variuos sizes and shapes.
You can make them as hearts and ovals
as well as circles.

Generally, I'm pretty old school when
it comes to yo-yo's.  I make them the
way my Mom taught me.  Draw a circle
on fabric, I usually use a small plate as
a template and cut out.  Thread a needle
and knot both ends together so you have
a double thread.  Take a tiny first stitch
and take another in the same spot, you
don't want the knot to pull through the
fabric.  Now stitch all the way around the
circle about 1/8" from edge.  I use a 3/8"
stitch when I make mine.  A good tip is
the larger your stitch, the smaller the hole
will be while the smaller the stitch, the
larger the hole.  Since I usually finish
my yo-yo's with a button, the raw edge
is covered.

Pull on the thread and gather the fabric
use your fingers to make the fabric settle
nicely and knot the thread firmly.  Add
a button as embellishment.

Make sure to pass your knowledge on
to future generations. Thanks Mum!