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.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks - Volume 10

Cover Girl!

My block made the cover of Quiltmaker's
100 Blocks Magazine - Volume 10!  There
she is, second row from the right, second
block from the bottom, named Dutch Treat.

I also submitted a quilt using the block 
and it was chosen to be in the Designer's

Here is my photo of the quilt, I call it
"Going Dutch".

Friday, December 5, 2014

Elle's Kitchen: Cape May Mushroom Soup

We have moved into the grays of Winter around
here and to warm up from the chill a lovely soup
is always a great addition to the menu.

Many, many moons ago, Mr. Wonderful and I
got engaged in one of our favorite places ~ Cape
May, NJ.  Cape May is a lovely little seaside 
village located at the southern tip of the New
Jersey peninsula.  When you drive to the very 
end of the state, it looks like you have come to 
the end of the world so it is nicknamed, "End of
the World, NJ".

Cape May is a Victorian jewel.  There had been a 
devastating fire that burned much of the town during
 the Victorian era.  Since it was such a popular vacation
destination, the town was quickly rebuilt and we now 
have a wonderful collection of Victorian architecture
in one small town.  On this visit, we were getting engaged
and we stayed at the Columbia House.  We chose this 
place because we could rent an apartment with a 
kitchen.  Even back then we were cooking on our travels.


1/2 pound mushrooms
2 mediums onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 stick butter
3 tablespoons dry white vermouth
5 cups mild chicken stock (reduced sodium)
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper

Peel and chop the onions and garlic finely 
and melt the butter in a large pan.  Sweat 
the onions and garlic in the butter while you
chop the mushrooms finely.

Add the mushrooms to the onions and stir them 
around for a few minutes and then add the vermouth.

In another pan bring the chicken stock to the boil
and then pour it into the vegetables.  Simmer for
15 minutes or until the taste of the mushrooms has
really permeated the broth.

Beat the egg yolks with the cream.

Add a few ladles of the soup to the eggs and 
cream to temper them.

Pour the mixture into the soup.  Season to taste.
Depending on the stock you use, you may not need
any more salt.  Heat very slowly, stirring.  Do not 
allow the soup to boil or it will curdle.  When the 
mushrooms are suspended in the soup, serve

I made some popovers to go with the soup 
that really formed some prehistoric looking
shapes ~ but they were tasty!

We have been making this soup for decades.
The vermouth adds a nice touch and the soup
isn't gloppy like so many cream of mushroom
soups can be.

I can't remember where I got the recipe, so 
we just refer to it as Cape May Mushroom Soup.
When I make it, it always takes me back to that
kitchen in the Columbia House when we were
filled with the hopes and dreams of our future.

And we are still cooking.  Tomorrow we are 
heading down to Mexico for a few weeks and
we will be cooking.  We have already decided
we can get terracotta dishes down there to 
make  Gambas al Ajillo, but think we better 
bring our own scallop shells to make Coquille


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday American Homestead!

Happy 4th Birthday to the American Homestead
blog!  Four years ago today I started my blogging
journey, it also happened to be my birthday so I 
thought that would be good luck.  I had no clue 
about how to blog, I didn't really know how to 
upload photos from my camera and I think I was
a bit shy about writing whatever I wanted for all 
the world to see.  Oh , how times have changed!
My daughter sent me off to eastern Europe four 
years ago with an index card with a few instructions 
written on it and somehow I figured out how to do it.

Avalon, our American Homestead, has been filled with 
people who have come to visit for Thanksgiving week.
Kasey, our Hawaiian daughter (Kate's former college
roommate) lives on the beach in Hawaii but makes us
happy by spending some of her Thanksgivings with us.
Last night, to kick off my birthday celebration, she made
me Haupia ~ a coconut custard that tastes like a pina 
colada, it was delish!  Thanks Kasey! (And Kasey's Mom
who sent out the mix from Hawaii).

It has been a busy week of movie watching, talking and
feasting.  Photos of our feasts will be sure to show up on
future blog posts.  

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and thank 
you for visiting the American Homestead!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Beautiful Day in Bloomington

Yesterday we headed south to pick up our
guy in Bloomington.

It was a cold day but still beautiful
with the sun and blue skies.

We took a quick walk around campus.

This is the Well House, one of the oldest structures
on campus.  Legend has it that a couple will be together
forever if they kiss at the 12 strokes of midnight on
Valentine's Day.

This is a great old building but with 
something new this time.

Here is the new statue of the famous Hoosier,
Ernie Pyle, a one time student at Indiana University.

It has quickly become an infamous statue
due to the misspelling of the word "Corespondent".

Then we headed back indoors to have
a  lovely lunch at the Tudor Room.  I 
always feel like I am at Hogwart's when
I eat here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Early Bird Baking

In a few days our Thanksgiving week company
will start arriving and that means we will be having
a few Dutch Breakfasts.  And with those breakfasts
I always like to serve some baked goods.  When we
are in Europe and can run down the block and buy
beautiful pastries, that little jaunt is a pleasure but
when we are home on the prairie, we don't have as
many options for breakfast baked goods.  So, I make
my own.  Now I could get up really early and bake 
and mess up the kitchen and wait for the tea breads
to cool but that's too much stress and work when 
what you really want to do is have fun! Last night,
before, during and after dinner I baked a few tea
breads, I made Irish Tea Bread and Pumpkin Bread.

Remember to ALWAYS grate your nutmeg, it 
is so beautifully fragrant.  It makes the ground
nutmeg you purchase look like dust...

When mixing together your dry ingredients,
use a whisk, your ingredients will be perfectly

In a few hours I had my baking done.  Now since
I will be using them next week and they don't 
have preservatives, they wouldn't last if I left
them as is.

I cut each loaf in half and wrap in paper.

Then into freezer bags and into the freezer.
I pull a few halves the night before I need 
them and by morning they are perfectly
thawed and ready to slice and eat.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Homekeeping: Pre-pressing Table Linens

Thanksgiving week is our biggest time for
entertaining in the entire year.  Our guests 
start arriving on Saturday and we will have 
a house filled with people we love.  We are
all cooks and that means most meals will be 
at home.  I love to set a pretty table and use
the many linens and dishes I collect.  To save
time I iron all my linens ahead of time.  I use
skirt hangers to keep them neat and hang 
them out of the way on a rod in my laundry

I keep a little weekly planning list so
if I'm busy I can send one of the kids 
to gather the correct items to set the 

After all, it's much more fun to spend 
time with your loved ones than to be 
off alone ironing when everyone else
is having fun.  A little planning can
 make entertaining a breeze.

Friday, November 14, 2014

That's ME! ~ In the Land of Wonder, the Land Down Under

What a way to warm up a frosty day in the
American Midwest.  A copy of Australian
Patchwork and Quilting arrived from all the
way on the other side of the world.  AND, it
has an article about me and my book.  Oh,
thank you so much Australia ~ I can't wait 
to finally get to see you next summer.

I apologize if the photos are a bit blurry
but I admit I was a bit teary when I was
taking the pictures.  It was a mix of happy
and sad tears.  You see, the article talks
about how my Mum encouraged my 
interest in embroidery and our trips to the 
Five and Ten store where I would always 
want to buy embroidery floss while other
little girls were buying paper dolls and candy.

So, I sat down and had a big boo hoo.  We miss
our sweet girl so very much... But I know she 
would have loved this article, after all, it's why
she encouraged my interest in crafts all those
years ago.

Thank you so much Ally!  I love it!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I'm A Cover Girl!

Well, okay, not me... but my design is on the cover
of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Magazine - Volume 10.
I just received my advance copy today and I was 
so thrilled!

I can't show the design yet but you can be sure I 
will once the magazine hits the newsstands.

If you look inside you will also find a quilt I made
using the applique block I designed.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Working With Wool/Felt: Changing Colors

I've been working on making new samples
for my wool applique lecture that I give at
Guilds and Quilt Shops.  This is my Grand
Isle pattern made from felted wool.

Here is the same pattern made with wool
felt.  Wool felt is the easiest way to applique.

And here is another one made with wool
felt.  I love that changing the colors can 
make it look like a completely different 

I'm using this one in my studio this week
for Halloween.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

THE HUNT FOR RED (...and yellow, and orange, and maybe some purple) OCTOBER

We are having a glorious Autumn here in 
the American Midwest.  We live in an area
known for beautiful leaf color in the Fall but
this year seems to be particularly beautiful.

I have heard that it is a combination of 
temperature, sunlight and soil temperature
that makes the leaves so vivid.

In this area, people who go out to see the
Autumnal color are called "leaf peepers".

For the past two weeks we have been trying to
figure out when the "peak" of the color will be.

On our days off we would make plans to go
out for a drive to see the foliage but each time
it was very overcast or raining and that doesn't
make for good photos.

I hike in these woods every day and for the 
past week I have forgotten to bring my camera
on my hikes.

Today we were off and the sun was out finally.
It was a perfect Indian Summer day, the temperature
reached 75 F!

But sadly, we missed the peak time, many of 
the leaves are off the trees already.

So no sweeping vistas of trees of many colors...

And with the breezy weather we had today,
the leaves will all be down soon.  They were
falling like snow today.

So enjoy these photos of the color I could find 
on my hike today.

The sky was so blue.  As my old friend
Lucie Anne from England used to say,
"that beautiful American blue sky".

From our American Homestead to wherever you
may call home, I hope you enjoy the show from
Mother Nature.

Enjoy Autumn, Winter is coming soon enough.