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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Letting Go

This weekend is our neighborhood
rummage sale.  It is in typical Murphy's
Law fashion that this weekend the
temperature is skyrocketing.  Yesterday
it hit 106 degrees F. ~ in June~ in Indiana!

But we had cleaned our closets and priced
everything and we decided we wanted it all
out of the house so the show went on...

Now that the kids are both going off to college
we realize we don't need 3 different sets of
Christmas china or the Halloween set.  We
did use all of this stuff in the past but Mr.
Wonderful and I don't need to eat off snowmen
plates.  We have tons of Christmas and Halloween
decorations, we always decorated BIG but that can
go too.  I don't want any of it to come back in the
house, so please come buy it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Elle's Kitchen: Eggplant Parmesan

For most of my life I didn't eat eggplant,
I thought it was icky.  As I traveled around
the world there always seemed to be an
eggplant dish on the table and to be a sport
I would taste them.  And they were fabulous!
What was I missing for all those lost years?

This is not a recipe for a busy night,  make it
some day when you are going to be around the
house, working on other things ~ it takes a
bit of time.

But it is worth it and this version is healthier
than the traditional style.


2 good sized eggplants
olive oil
large container fat free cottage cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tbls. grated parm
1/2 cut fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg
2 cups part-skim mozzarella, grated
large jar marinara sauce
can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes, drained

Slice eggplants into 1/2" rounds ( it is best if you
end up with 24 rounds), sprinkle with salt
and place in colander for 1/2 hour to release
moisture,  then place on paper towels
 to soak up any extra moisture.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place eggplant on baking sheet and brush
both sides with olive oil.

Bake for 25 minutes, turning halfway.

In a bowl combine cottage cheese, egg,
parsley and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

In another bowl combine the sauce and
the diced tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray a 9" x 13" glass pan with cooking
spray for easier clean-up.  Put a bit of
sauce in the bottom of pan, then a layer
of eggplant, top with 1/3 of cheese mixture,
sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella and add some
sauce.  Repeat layers ending up with a layer
of eggplant topped with sauce, the final 1/2 cup
of mozzarella and the 2 tbls. of parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. 
Remove foil and bake an additional 10
minutes.  Remove from oven and allow
to cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chock-A-Block Wednesday

Pinwheel Flowers

I haven't been able to post to Chock-A-Block
Wednesdays since before Quilt Market.
Things have been so busy since then and
that's a great thing!  Please refer to past
posts as you need them and I will post blocks
again from time to time.

This is the June Block of the Month for
the Redbud Quilt Guild.  This pattern is not
mine, I'm just showing how I made my
block.  The block was presented by Nancy M.

Fabric Requirements:

Fabric A: White
12 - 3 1/2" squares

Fabric B: Medium green
4 - 6 1/2" x 3 1/2" rectangles

Fabric C:  Medium pink
4 - 3 1/2" squares

Fabric D: Light pink
4 - 6 1/2" x 3 1/2" rectangles

Note:  On all 3 1/2" squares draw a diagonal line down the center.  Then
on one side draw another line 1/2" away from the center line.

Fabric Fabric C 3 1/2" square on right
side of Fabric D rectangle with right
sides together.  Sew on both lines.

Cut between the lines.  Press to the
corner on rectangle.
Press seam in half square triangle to the Fabric C,
set aside.

Place a Fabric A 3 1/2" square on left
side of rectangle with right sides together
and repeat the process.
Make 4 of this unit.

Press seams in half square triangle to the
Fabric A.  Set aside.

Repeat above process using Fabric A
3 1/2" squares and Fabric B rectangles.
Make 4 of this unit.

Press half the seams of half square triangles
to the Fabric B and half to the Fabric A.
Set aside.

Make Quarter Units:
Layout as ahown and sew together taking
care with the point.
Make 4.

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

Sew rows together and press final
seam open to reduce bulk. 
Square to 12 1/2".

Please Note:
The following differs from the
original pattern as I squared
the half square triangles to 2 1/2".

Square half square triangles to 2 1/2".

Layout half square triangles as shown,
the arrows show the direstions of the
seams.  Sew together in 2 rows taking care
"lock" seams together, this will give you
a precise point.

Press seam in row 1 to the left and seam in
row 2 to the right.

Sew rows together.  Press final seam up.

Make 4.

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

Sew rows together and press final seam open
to reduce bulk.  Square to 8 1/2".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Dream of Things to Come...

Just outside the window to my studio is
a clothesline and nothing makes me happier
than seeing it filled with fabric that is about
to become a new creation.

Do you pre-wash your quilting fabric?

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Vegetarian Summer

We are enjoying a (mostly) vegetarian summer.
Our kids are home from school for the next few
months and one of our kids is a strict vegetarian
so to make it easier and healthier all around we
have all joined the bandwagon and are eating
mainly veggies.  We are pouring through cook
books and checking out recipes on Pinterest.
We have had some delightful meals and a few
clunkers...  I generally fill up a big grocery cart
each week before I even get out of the produce
area.  I think all these fruits and veggies are
making our bodies feel better.  I must admit,
when the vegetarian is not going to be home for
dinner we do take out an order of ribs or throw
a few kabobs on the grill.  Honestly, I could
really get used to this style of eating.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On Work & Play

We are all working so hard at our house
that it is hard to keep a balance between
work and play.   Yesterday Mr. Wonderful
did some repairs on our bikes and last
night we took a long ride through our little
town as the sun was going down.

It is often after 8pm by the time everyone
gets home but we still try to have dinner
together every night.

And every evening at 10pm we meet in
the gazebo for a bit of relaxation and
to throw off the worries of the day.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Building the Empire: Photo Shoots

The other day I had to leave Me Time
early because I had to take pictures
for some new covers.  Someone asked,
"how long can it take to take some pictures?"
I am now into day 3...

Ask most small business owners and they
will tell you they do it all.  My product is
(good or bad) all me.  I design it, I make it,
I write the pattern, I input it all into the
publishing program, it take all the pictures,
I do all the illustrations and I sell it.
The only thing someone else handles is the
printing, I just don't have room for those
machines.  This is not true for every pattern
designer,  there are some who send a sketch
to a pattern writing company and have
photographers and graphic designers.
This would not work for my Type C
(as in control) personality...

This is my little photo shoot set-up.
Various backgrounds which are just
scrapbooking paper, fake berries and
greenery that I pulled from arrangements
in my house, prop pieces that are decor
in my house.  It is quick and easy to
set up, and I can move it around to get
the best natural light.  You can use pieces
of white foam core board as bounce cards,
position them outside of the photo to
bounce the light around and eliminate
 shadows ~ they work great.

And now, back to work.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Years ago I planted this hygrangea plant.  It
never really took off, then it had to be moved
because we were putting in a new air conditioning
unit.  After moving, it never produced blooms.
It would leaf out but nothing else.
And this year, blooms!  I'm so happy!

Over at my Mum's house, this plant has
gone wild this year.

It is blooming in purples and pinks...

and even some yellow.

I love to take photographs of them
in the soft, early morning light.

We always had a hydrangea in the corner
of the backyard of my childhood home. 
That is probably why I love them so, I can
remember putting them in vases in my
bedroom.  Maybe that's why blue is my
favorite color ~ especially in the hydrangeas,
they have that sweet, heavenly blue...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day, Mr. Wonderful!

I'm lucky because I can remember the exact
moment I fell in love with my husband.  It
wasn't because he was he was the big man
on campus or the life of the party kind of guy.
It was because he was nice and kind and fair
and I knew he would be a great father.

And he was cute...

This year will mark 30 years that we have
been together (!!!!).  We have enjoyed the
highs and lows and ups and downs of a
marriage and parenthood together.  We can
bask in the glow of having raised 2 beautiful,
smart, talented kids.  This morning we sat in
our gazebo looking back at the house we
completely transformed, the gardens we dug
and tended for all these years and we're happy.
We also flipped through the pages of the World
Atlas, making plans for travels for the coming
year.  I am grateful for being wise enough in my
youth to recognize that kindness, fairness and
being nice are great traits in a spouse.  And
he is a great Father.

I love you with all my heart, Mr. Wonderful!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Elle's Kitchen: Adana Kebab

We were in Istanbul recently and bought
some lovely metal kebab skewers ~ this
is one of the ways we use them.


1 1/4 pound ground meat ~ I
used pork this time ~ this would
not be used in Turkey.
1 onion, diced
1 tbls. dried pepper flakes ~ the
Turkish kind
1/2 tbsp. ground coriander
1/2 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. butter, diced
1 tbsp. red pepper paste
olive oil
salt & pepper

Add butter & onion to meat and mix.

Add pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, pepper
paste amd salt & pepper, mix.

Divide and place on skewers.  Coat with
olive oil.  Grill until cooked through.

It is extra nice if you can dine al fresco.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Lavender Harvest

It's time to harvest the lovely, fragrant
lavender in my garden.  These trusty
plants have been producing for over 15
years.  I will dry them and soon they will
be in a sachet in my pillow and sweetening
my dreams...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Elle's Kitchen: Shepherd's Salad

My Take on a Turkish Classic

I had this salad on my recent trip to
Istanbul and I have to admit it was just
okay.  For me, it was a bit bland, so I have
jazzed it up a bit and now we love to include
this in our weekly menus.


Cucumber - cut into quarters and sliced
Tomatoes, diced
Red onion, sliced thin
Feta cheese. about a 2" cube, crumbled

Mix together and add a viniagrette, I make
mine with some rice vinegar, salt & pepper
and a good olive oil, mix together and shake,
then I add a few drops of an excellent balsamic
vinegar and mix.

About the tomatoes ~ I have been using the
Compari toms, they have a great flavor, they
remind me of the tomatoes I had in Greece
which were the best toms I have ever eaten.
And that is a bold statement coming from
a Jersey Girl...


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chocolates and Pinks

For Regina

My friend Regina lives in Germany and
loves to work in chocolate and pink American
Civil War reproduction fabrics.  When I saw
this display at my "home" shop ~ The Quilt
Shoppe in Anderson, Indiana, I immediately
thought of how much she would like it.

So Regina, here are a few little
ideas for inspiration.

This display looks like it was made just for you!

Imagine having all of these in your stash!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Elle's Kitchen: Yogurt Parfait

Healthy & Delicious

In the heat of summer I prefer this
parfait to ice cream.


Vanilla yogurt
Maple pecan granola
Fresh raspberries and blackberries
Mint sprig

In a parfait glass, layer yogurt and
granola, top with berries and mint.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Garden Tour

Early June 2012

This rose is new to our garden this year, it
is one of the roses I planted our first summer
here in 1995.  It is in the back of a large perennial
bed and I thought it had died off but this year it
has come back as a nicer, prettier rose.  I guess it
reverted to its original rootstock, which is what
happened with another one of our roses, sadly this
one is not fragrant...

The border in our butterfly garden is wild
with yellow blooms.

We have tomatoes on the Early Girls.

Using the frost jackets was a big help.
These toms are quite high for early June.

This bed has mini pumpkins and gourds.

Here are the zucchini, peppers, eggplant
and cucumbers ~ we are desperate for rain
around here.

Hurry up zucchini!  We have big plans
for you in our Vegetarian Summer.