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, January 29, 2014

It's a book!

After a year and a half of work I finally got to hold
my first book in my hands.  This is the advance copy.
A very exciting moment in my life, I must admit.

It seems providential to have arrived on the eve of
our trip to Spain, like I'm being told that it is time to 
refuel.  Tomorrow I'll be off on another adventure, 
seeking inspiration for projects to come. doing some
of the stitching for projects for book 2, hopefully having
some time for rest and relaxation and I pray, to find
temperatures above freezing...

Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Threads of Memory ~ January

Portsmouth Star

We are quilting along with Barbara Brackman's
Block of the Month, Threads of Memory.


This is how I made my block. it may
differ from the original.  If you want 
to use a fussy cut in the corner units
this is not the method to use.  It is 
best to use a fabric that will blend 
easily for the Fabric B.

Fabric Requirements:

Fabric A: Fussy Cut
1 - 4 1/2'' square

Fabric B:  Blue
4 - 2 1/2'' squares
4 - 2 1/2'' x 4 1/2'' rectangles

Fabric C: Green
2 - 3 1/4'' squares - Mark
a diagonal line on back.
1 - 6'' square

Fabric D:  Red Print
2 - 3 1/4'' squares
1 - 6'' square

Fabric E: White Print
2 - 6'' 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 the drawn line, cut on drawn line.
  Press seams to the Fabric C and square to 2 1/2''.

Make Corner Units:

Layout a Half Square Triangle and Fabric B
2 1/2'' square as shown and sew together, 
press seam to the Fabric B square.

Layout above unit and Fabric B rectangle
as shown and sew together, press seam to
the rectangle.  Square to 4 1/2''.
Make 4 of this unit.

Make Quarter Square Triangles:

Pair 6'' squares in the following combinations:

1 - E/D        1 - E/C 

The first step is the same as making a Half
Square Triangle:  sew 1/4'' away from each
side of the drawn line, cut on the drawn line.
  Press seams to the darker fabric.  Mark 
diagonal line on the opposite diagonal from the 
seam on the Fabric C/E units.

Take care with this step, you want to pair the
E/C and E/D units with right sides together.
You want the 2 seams to butt up against each 
other and lock in place, pin along the seams.

Sew 1/4'' away from each side of the drawn
line, cut on drawn line.  Press seam open to
reduce bulk.

With Quarter Square Triangles there is a very
specific way to square up.  Place the diagonal line 
on the ruler on the diagonal seam that runs from 
top right to bottom left, also for this size QST, 
place the 2 1/4'' mark on the ruler in the center
of the unit as shown by the arrow.  Now trim the 
top and side.

Rotate the unit and place the 4 1/2'' lines of 
the ruler on the left and bottom edges as shown.
Trim top and right side.
Make 4 of this unit.

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

Sew rows together and press seams open to 
reduce bulk.  Square to 12 1/2''.

Check out everyone's work on Dustin's Flickr site:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A New Project for the New Year

I'll be having fun with my friends from all
around the world this year as we participate 
in Barbara Brackman's Threads of Memory
Block of the Month.  A new block will be posted
on the 3rd Saturday of each month.  Check in
here for a tutorial each month.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Sometimes inspiration can be found in
your own backyard.  Need some color
or pattern inspo ~ look to nature.

Here are a few visitors to Avalon 
today, they inspire me all the time.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Was Frantic...

Another shooting occurred yesterday on an
American campus, it also happened to be the
campus where one of our kids attends school.
I was happily posting yesterday's blog about
soap and travel when I brought up my facebook
page and read a post about a shooting at Purdue.
This was at 12:36pm, I immediately started
calling, texting, messaging on fabebook and I
couldn't reach Kate.  I called Rob, I called my
sister, I put on the local news.  Both of the 
anchors on Channel 12 had kids at Purdue too
and they had already checked in.  We are so 
connected in today's world ~ where was my Kate?

Kate's major is in the School of Science so she
certainly could have a class in the EE building.
Tornado sirens are blasting, texts are flying
all over the place.  And nothing...
Finally, at 12:55 pm Kate messaged me on 
facebook.  She said she was in Potter, the 
building next to EE and in the library on
lockdown with the doors locked.  It had been 
a long 19 minutes.

When I finally spoke to Kate after she was 
released she said she had a 12 o'clock class
in Potter, so she had walked right past the 
EE building next door.  When they got the 
text from Purdue about a shooting the professor
locked the door, they had a guest speaker and
the class went on.  They were released at 1:30pm
and as they left the building they saw LOTS of 
police and homeland security and helicopters
overhead.  They didn't know if the buses were
running so they called a sorority sister to pick
them up ~ they were scared and shaken.
Once home the sorority said they were not 
supposed to leave the house though Purdue
resumed classes.  Finally, Purdue cancelled
all classes for the remainder of the day and the
next day.  
Later, I asked Kate if she had heard the sirens
or shots.  She said they hadn't heard anything 
while inside.  I asked why she didn't call us right
away.  She said the text was Shooting reported 
on campus, EE building, avoid area, shelter in 
place.  They didn't know a person was shot, it 
could have been that shots were heard.  When
they came out of the building, they were shocked
at all that was happening around them.

By later in the day, they were allowed to out.
Kate and her sorority sisters attended the vigil
last night.  
As we breathe a sigh of relief and are so thankful
that our child is safe, we also know there is a family
that is experiencing the worst day of their lives
and our heart goes out to them.

Now a note to Purdue and all other
schools:  Part of your readiness training
needs to be that you instruct all teachers
to have the students contact their families
immediately when something like this 
happens.  It was all over the news and
we had no word from our child.  Almost 
every student has a phone these days and
if they don't, someone would loan them theirs.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Prepping For Travel

Mr. Wonderful & I are heading off to spend a 
few weeks in Spain later this month and I'm 
starting to prep for the trip.  I have been seeing
these natural soaps and solid perfumes on Pinterest
for a long time but I never got around to ordering.
Today they arrived and it was a bright spot in a
cold and snowy day.  I always buy new soaps when
I'm on vacation and I enjoy going to the local 
markets in search of them but I couldn't resist
ordering a few fruity bars.  Mainly, I was looking
for natural, solid perfumes, they are just so much
easier to travel with.  They weigh next to nothing
and the containers are plastic or tin so there is less
chance of breakage.  I bought an orange perfume 
and soap becasue the destination is Spain.  Every
time I peel a clementine, I hold it up to my face so
the oils pop all over and sigh, "Ahhh, it smells like
Spain!".  As soon as the package arrived I had to
open the verbena perfume, it is lovely, it's much
like the L'Occitane Verbena products or the scent 
that comes from brushing against the lemon
verbena plants in my garden.  
Now to get my gear together, grab my passport
and euros and throw some clothes in a suitcase
and I'm ready to go!


Monday, January 20, 2014

Setting Goals, Meeting Goals

I have so much going on in my life these days
that I find I have to make lists to remind myself
of all the things I have to do.  Then I break those 
lists down and try to figure out when I am going
to accomplish all of the tasks at hand.  This 
weekend my goal was to make these 3 felt table-
toppers.  They have been made before in the same
colors for the pattern covers but I need them for
trunk shows and trade shows.  I knew it was going
to be cold and snowy this weekend so I set 3 days
aside to accomplish this task.  I sat in front of the
fire and watched the new season of Lilyhammer
among other things and by early last night I was
finished!  They are ready to go out into the world.

I'm heading to Spain for a few weeks later this
month and though it is vacation, I am the type
of person that is incapable of sitting and doing
nothing.  So,  last month I had packed up my
 little travel kits to take with me.  It is a baggie
with the felt pieces and a little picture of a
finished piece (so I know the right place to put
the right stitches) and also my ring of floss, pins
and needles and a thread cutter.  I make up a lot
of these kits and stuff them in the front pocket
of my carry-on and pull them out as needed.
I've stitched on planes, trains, in cars and when
I have some time in the evenings and I want to
relax.  I'm sure I'll be stitching on my balcony
in Spain where if I look to the left I see the
mountains and if I look to the right I see the

While the kids were home for Christmas the 
weather was awful and we ended up spending
a lot of time hanging around watching movies
and I was stitching.  I ended up making all the 
kits I had prepped for Spain!  I made 35 new
Now I have to add to the list:  make new kits.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Neat to Eat ~ Gestreken Mastelle

In the city of Gent, in Belgium, is one of the
smallest storefronts I have ever seen.  It is 
the space of a closet ~ by that, I mean the 
closets of our youth, not the closets in today's
McMansions.  I "discovered" it by scent, I
could smell that irresistible aroma of butter
and cinnamon, it made me think of an apple
fritter.  I turned the corner and came upon
this young man.  He was a good looking guy
with a fabulous sales pitch ~ he could sell ice
to eskimos.

Gestreken Mastelle are traditional treats in Gent.
They sort of looked like a flattened bagel.  In the
old days you would cut the bun in half and add
butter and brown sugar and heat it with your
clothes iron.  The name means "ironed buns" in
Dutch.  This guy was using something like a 
panini press and you can get them now with all
sorts of savory fillings, like salmon and brie.
We had been climbing through castles and
churches and cobblestone streets and a
snack seemed like the perfect thing.  We got 
out our euros and then noticed everyone in the 
crowd had their euros out as well.  Needless to 
say, it would have been a long wait and we 
needed to move on.  So, sadly, I didn't get to
taste this treat ~ but it is a reason to return
to lovely Gent someday.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Elle's Kitchen: Healthy Potato Soup

With the weather turning colder and a crock
full of potatoes, it seemed to be a perfect time
for Potato Soup.  I turned to Pinterest, my new 
go to spot for recipes, and I started searching.
I have to admit I was shocked at how unhealthy
many of the recipes were, some called for scads
of butter or a pint or two (!) of heavy cream, my
favorite gasp moment was the recipe that called 
for an entire brick of Velveeta.  Yeeps!
Obviously, it was time to refine the search to
healthy potato soup recipes...


2 - 3 potatoes - dice in 1'' cubes
with peels on
1 large cauliflower - cut florets in 
large pieces
32 oz. vegetable stock (or chicken)
1 tabl. butter
3 -4 cloves of garlic - peeled
1/2 teas. black pepper
1 teas. salt
1 bay leaf
a pinch of red pepper
3 tabl. sour cream

sharp cheddar - grated

Combine all the ingredients except the sour 
cream in a stockpot, cover, bring to a boil and
boil on high for 18 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Remove the bay leaf.   Add the
sour cream and puree with immersion blender to 
desired consistency. [If you do not have an immersion
blender you can puree in batches in a blender, just take
care because it is hot.]

Top with toppings and serve.  It is nice to
have a toppings bar so everyone can add their
own.  Our vegetarian is home from school and
she certainly wouldn't go near the bacon.  We, 
on the other hand, love it - you can go a little
crazy with the toppings since the rest of the
soup is quite healthy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dixie Diary ~ First 2014 Finish!

I have been participating in Barbara Brackman's
Block of the Month, Dixie Diary.  We
did a block a month throughout 2013.  Some months
I got the blocks done promptly and some months it
just didn't happen.  Prepping for Quilt Market and
working on my first book took a lot of my time this
year,  But by December, I was all caught up and I 
designed and pieced the top.

I was so excited to finish the quilt before the end
of the year and with weeks to spare.  In case you 
don't know, our name is Murphy and in typical
Murphy's Law fashion, just as I was free motion
quilting the final block in the quilt and dreaming 
about what movies I would watch while binding
it and what snacks I would reward myself with
for being such a good Block of the Month
 participant ~ poof ~ Crazy Janie, my sewing
machine said Nooooo, I'm done!  She locked up 
completely, the wheel refused to move.  I took
her to the hospital.  My daughter was coming
home from Purdue about this time and I told
her to bring home her Project Runway machine
from the sorority house, thinking I could free
motion quilt with that.  Ahhh, no.  Also no to
quilting on the featherweights ~ let's just say
I spent alot of time with a seam ripper...

Meanwhile Crazy Janie, was still in the hospital.
She needed a part and with 2 major holidays
and wild weather all over the country, there 
were delays.  Mr. Wonderful & I braved the
ice and snow last Saturday and picked her up.
She now purrs like a kitten.

So today, I put aside making samples and 
spent the day finishing the quilting on the 
last block and adding binding and hand sewing
the binding and I'm done!!!!  

Now I'm looking forward to the next project
due to start later in January.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Polar Vortex ~ Day 2

We are in day 2 of a Polar Vortex.  Simply put, 
a polar vortex is when the freezing arctic air 
decides to head south for a while and thus sends
us into a state of cold that we rarely experience.

Thankfully, we are in a warm house that is well
stocked with food.  We have a bit of cabin fever
but have watched marathons of The Tudors and
Law & Order SVU.  When we send Mia the Wonder
Dog outside she starts to limp after a few minutes.

We feel so sorry for the poor animals who have to
suffer in the bitter cold and wind.  We give them food 
and hope they can keep warm enough to survive.  The 
photo above is of one of our birds who has fluffed up 
his feathers to conserve body heat.  

Looking forward to a warm up!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Storm Ion

It snowed ALL day yesterday, it was very
pretty and nice to be able to have the house
stocked up with food and water and have no
worries about having to leave the house.
I was able to get outside and take some
pictures and enjoy the lovely quiet of
 a snowy day.
We make sure our birds have plenty
to eat in the winter.  The cardinals
are especially beautiful against the snow.
Late last night the winds started blowing
and the temperature dropped.  This morning
we woke up to a winter wonderland and cold
like we haven't felt in years.  The wind chill
temperature was -40 F this morning. 
The birds have fluffed their feathers
to conserve their body heat.  We will
have another cold night tonight, we
are hoping the power stays on.