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, December 30, 2013

Tortugas Bebés Mexicanos

Mexican Baby Turtles

On Christmas morning I opened this card and
was amazed that a card existed for something
that was so important to us.  On closer inspection,
I realized it was my photo!  Mr. Wonderful had
made up this card to go along with the little turtle
to give to me as a keepsake from our time with the

Last Fall we were in Mexico and went out for 
a walk along the beach before breakfast.

As we were passing a resort a man approached 
us and invited us in to view the conservation area.

Some of the turtles were hatching.

We could help to dig up the baby turtles, they 
were so adorable.  They would be protected
for the day and released in the evening.

It was the highlight of our trip!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

We are celebrating Christmas at Avalon, our
American Homestead.  We were out late last
night and didn't wake up until 10 am, we had
to wake up the kids.  Ohhh,  how times have
changed.  When the kids were little, I would 
tape crepe paper streamers across the stairway
to remind them that they couldn't go downstairs
in the wee hours of the morning.  They would
wake us up at the crack of dawn in the old days.

After opening and playing with our presents,
it was time to start cooking.  I made a homemade
honey baked ham this year.  The choice was ham
since we had a collection of mustards that we had
either purchased on our travels or received as gifts.

The birdies got some new presents this year
and they have been enjoying their Christmas
feast on this cold winter day.

From our American Homestead to wherever
you may be, may your days be merry and
bright and may you be surrounded by the 
ones you love.

All the best ~ Ellen

Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Early Christmas Present

I just got the news that the proposal
for my second book has been accepted!
What a wonderful present.
Time to celebrate!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dixie Diary ~ December

Turning Yankee
We are quilting along with Barbara Brackman's
Block of the Month, Dixie Diary.
Here is my December block and it was finished
in December ~ yeah!!!!  Well, that winds up the
blocks for this year.  No tutorial this time since
I made it as described in the original post.
I was so excited to get the quilt pieced, quilted
and finished by Christmas.  While doing the
free-motion quilting on my home machine, I
got to the last block and poof! ~ my machine
just stopped.  MURPHY'S LAW!!!  The machine
is at the hospital and I await the diagnosis...
My daughter brought her Project Runway machine
home from the sorority house at Purdue (I love that
she took her sewing machine to college).  I'm going
 to see if I can quilt with it once it is unpacked from
the car.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dixie Diary ~ November

Just Hominy
We are quilting along with Barbara Brackman's
Block of the Month, Dixie Diary.
Still playing catch-up on the Dixie Diary
blocks.  No tutorial this time since I made
mine as described in the original.  My best
advice for this block is to go slowly and be
sure to mark 1/4'' from the edge when doing
the y-seams.  Good Luck!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dixie Diary ~ October

Shooting Stars

We are quilting along with Barbara Brackman's
Block of the Month, Dixie Diary.


This is how I made my block, it may differ
from the original.

Fabric Requirements:

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

Fabric B - Dark
2 - 3 1/2'' x 6 1/2'' rectangles
4 - 4 1/4'' squares

Make Half Square Triangles:
Pair Fabric A and Fabric B squares with 
right sides together,  sew 1/4'' away from 
each side of drawn line, cut on line.  Press
the seams of 2 of the HST's to the light
fabric and the rest of the seams to the
dark fabric.  Square to 3 1/2''.

Make Center Unit:

Layout Half Square Triangle units as shown.
Note the arrows that indicate the direction 
the seams are pressed, this will help in having
precise points.  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 this seam
open to reduce bulk.  Square to 6 1/2'' x 6 1/2''.

Sew a dark rectangle to each side 
of the center unit, press the seams
to the outside.

Make Top and Bottom Units:

Layout units as shown and sew together.
press seams to the inside.

Sew units to the top and bottom,
matching seams.  Press final seams 
open to reduce bulk.  Square to 12 1/2''.

I added the sashing and applique as

described in month 1.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Ornament Class

Today I taught a class on Felt Holiday
Ornaments for 12 lovely students.
We had carols and cookies and
lots of fun!
Check out the work of some of the
students.  I didn't get a shot of everyone's
ornament because some photos came out
blurry or the student may have been away
from the classroom having a little retail therapy.
Note to students:  please send a photo of your
finished piece and I'll post them on the American
Homestead facebook page.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: A Week of Salads ~ Orzo Salad

It is day 4 of A Week of Salads.
The selection tonight was Orzo Salad.
It is a cold salad that we think would
be better as a side, in the summer,
rather than the entrée on a snowy night.
We think we'll have a week of soups
next week...
sea salt
1 1/2 cups orzo
a head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup crème fraeche
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 small avocado, peeled and sliced
Cook orzo according to package directions,
rinse with cold water, drain.
Steam broccoli until bright green, set aside.
To make the pesto, combine half the broccoli,
the garlic, 3/4 of the pine nuts, the Parmesan,
1/4 teas. salt and 2 tabl. of the lemon juice and
pulse to combine.  Then drizzle in the olive oil
and crème fraeche, pulse until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine the orzo,
broccoli, the pesto and the lemon zest.
Fold in the avocado, top with remaining
pine nuts.

Christmas Is Coming!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: A Week of Salads ~ Spinach, Pear & Pomegranate Salad

It is Day 3 of A Week of Salads.
Tonight we will have a delicious
Spinach, Pear & Pom Salad.
1/3 cup pecan pieces
3 tabl. cider vinegar
2 tabl. extra virgin olive oil
1 tabl. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
8 oz. baby spinach
2 ripe pears, peeled & sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spread pecans on
a baking sheet and toast for 7 to 10 minutes
or until lightly browned. Cool.
Make the dressing:
Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil,
honey, mustard, salt & pepper in a large
In a large bowl, add the dressing to the spinach
and toss well.  Add the pears, pomegranate seeds
and pecans and toss well.  Sprinkle blue cheese on
top and serve.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: A Week of Salads ~ Greek Salad

This is day 2 of A Week of Salads.
Tonight is Greek Salad, a favorite
around our house.
The best Greek Salad I ever had was,
fittingly, in Athens.
We had spent the morning at the
Acropolis and were hungry and
exhausted by lunchtime.
For the dressing:
2 tabl. white balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
a few pinches of oregano
1/8 cup olive oil
a pinch or two of sugar
Combine ingredients in a small
jar and shake well.
For the salad:
romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, sliced
feta, crumbled
kalamata olives
thinly sliced feta, drizzle with dressing
Drizzle some of the dressing on the
lettuce and toss, arrange on plates.
In a bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers,
onions, crumbled feta and olives.  Drizzle
with the remaining dressing, toss.
Arrange tomato/cucumber mixture
on top of the lettuce and place the sliced
feta in the center.
When I eat this salad, it takes me
right back to Greece.  Don't you
love this man with his flowers?
As I would walk the streets of Athens,
I kept seeing these heads on the edges
of the rooflines.
On my way from Santorini to Istanbul
I had a long layover in Athens and hopped
on the subway and went back into town.
In the flea market in Monastiraki I spied
a few of the terra cotta heads and grabbed
one.  It now is in my living room, my own
little antique treasure from Greece.  I
always imagine all the life that little head
witnessed overlooking the streets of Athens.


My Heart's Goin' Boom, Boom, Boom!

It was a busy day of Me Timin', birthday
celebratin' and eh, working...  but on my
morning errands I ran into a shop across
the street from my bank and picked up this
little turquoise tree!  It will be perfect for
displaying my feltworks in the European
Folk Art Collection.  Sometimes little things
can make you so happy.