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Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Well, it has been a very exciting week around
my American Homestead!  On St, Patrick's Day
my first book was released and on Saturday I
gave my first lecture about it.

The lecture was about how I became a quilt and
craft pattern designer including all the influences
I have had in my life that brought me here and
of course it was the story of my first book and a
trunk show of the quilts.  It was so wonderful to
have had the chance to debut my book while
 being surrounded by so many of my friends.
And it was extra special since my daughter Katie
Rose was home for Spring Break and she could
share the day with me.

Afterwards, I signed books in The Quilt Shoppe's
booth and I'm happy to say we sold out of the 
first shipment.

Images courtesy of Silva Photography.

My friend Irene Silva of Silva Photography
captured these sweet images of people reading 
my book.  I'm so happy she did this because I
didn't get to see this since I was signing books.

What is so special about this is, this is exactly
what I envisioned as I was planning and 
designing this book.  I wanted more than just
the quilts and patterns.  I wanted people to be
able to enjoy beautiful photos that gave a feel
of each of the homesteads where these quilts
live.  Each quilt design has a photo of the house,
a landscape shot showing a scene from the area
where the house is located and a still life showing
decor or collectibles that would be in the house.
And then of course, there are all of the beautiful 
photos of the quilts.  Most of the landscape and
still life photos are mine, I took them in my garden,
on my travels, at Mounds Park, in my hometown.
The photo of the 2 kids in colonial costume for the
Colonial Saltbox quilt is of my kids, Katie Rose and
Brennan, in the costumes I made them when we
used to visit Colonial Williamsburg for our Spring
Break every year.

And then a few nights ago, a friend of mine sent me
a message on facebook with this link:

A review of my book!  How very exciting!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

 Well, today is the big day!  It is the release date of
my first book American Homestead Quilts!

It takes a long time to make a book from start to
finish.  We first started talking about a book about
21 months ago and it has been 18 months from the
contract to the book.  What an education it has been.

Since I publish my own patterns and do everything
in that process except the printing, I had no idea
about how many people were involved in the
publishing of a book and I'm sure there are people
involved in this process that I never even heard of.
But it was fun to work with other people on a project.

For example, to know someone was going over all the
technical aspects was a great feeling.  I'm sure most
designers spend a lot of time proofing their patterns but
since we are so close to the project, sometimes we miss
mistakes ~ and ohhhh, that hurts.  You want everything
to be perfect.  By having your own technical editor, you
have someone going through everything with a fine
toothed comb.  I felt Ann made my quilts in her head.

I have to wonder, did C&T Publishing set the release
date for my book on March 17th because my name
is Murphy?

And that brings up another reason to be happy on
this day ~ it is St. Patrick's Day!  And when you
are the granddaughter of a person named
Nellie O'Rourke, you will be celebrating on this
day.  When my Mum was in Ireland and she
would tell people her Mother's name, people
would say, "Aye, Lass, with a name like that, you
need to open a pub!".

So, I thought I would tell a story today about the
first St. Patrick's Day I spent with Mr. Wonderful.
Of course, he wasn't Mr. Wonderful yet, he was
just McCutie.  It was 32 years ago today (yeeps)
and we were a couple of poor college students
who had been dating for just a few months. 
Wonderful had started a job that week at the
Town Pub, a local bar/restaurant, his job was
helping prep the food for the big St. Patrick's Day
bash that was happening that week.  The new job
of course meant new money and we planned to
spend some of it on St. Patrick's Day.  We went
to school on top of a mountain overlooking
New York City.  That meant, on March 17th we
would be on our way to the big city.  We had
both gone to classes and then caught the bus to
Manhattan, we walked over to 5th Ave and stood
along the fences of Central Park and watched one
of the biggest parades in the world.  If you have
never seen it, it is a spectacle.  Yes, there are the
typical high school bands from all over the country
(imagine how exciting it must be for them), there
are politicians waving and shaking hands but it is
the amount of police and firefighters that can
completely blow your mind.  Can there really be
that many police and firefighters in this area and
if they are all marching, then who is minding the
store.  Do you think all the Italians work on St.
Patrick's Day and the Irish all work on Columbus
Day so everyone gets a chance to be in the
parade for their country?  Row after row after
row of uniformed men and women.  And then
if you were not already blown away, marching
along were the Emerald Societies, the pipe and
drum corps.  They are decked out in their kilts
and the fabulous sounds of the bagpipes sends
a shiver down every Irishman's spine.  McCutie
told me how special it was to see this since
Grandpa Murphy had been a New York City
policeman and Uncle Jack Murphy was a New
York City fireman.

After the parade, we headed downtown and
McCutie bought me a corsage, a carnation
sprayed green for the special day.  We went
to McSorley's, it is said to be the oldest Irish
pub in NYC, it has been around since the mid
1800's.  I was a McSorley's regular, I went every
Sunday night.  I was introduced by a guy I dated.
I gave up the guy but kept the bar.  I generally don't
like bars but since this is so Irish, I always felt the staff
was looking out for me.  In fact, some nights the guys
would walk us to our car to be sure we got home safely.
(Don't worry, we had designated drivers).
Of course the line to get in was long on this day and as
we were standing there the manager, John stepped
outside for some fresh air and spotted me in the crowd
and came over to give me a kiss, I guess because I'm
Irish.  McCutie was impressed, wow he said, I guess
you really are a regular.  We ate some of the best ham
sandwiches on the planet, very simple, ham on rye
with raw onion and the hottest mustard you can imagine.

This image was found on Google images.

Later we walked back to the West Village and I spotted
a place called Googie's, one of my friends had been there
and she said they had great Long Island Iced Teas.  We
decided to try them.  Ok, I wasn't much of a drinker then
or now and I honestly had no idea what a Long Island
Iced Tea was.  I guessed it had some alcohol in it but
I really thought it was mostly iced tea ~ really...
So we talked and had another and talked and had
another and then we realized we had to get back to the
Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square to catch the
last bus of the night back to school.  And then I stood up
and found out those drinks were not mostly iced tea...
We caught the bus in time and settled in for the 20
minute ride home and somewhere in there we both
fell asleep.  As a businessman was getting off the bus
many miles away in a neighboring town, he saw us and
figured we were from the college and woke us up. 
And there we were, after midnight, tired and cold and
having to walk all the way back home.  On the next block
over from where I lived was a big cemetery and McCutie
thought it would be much shorter to cut through it to
get to my house.  At this point he was starting to be not so
cute.  Do you know that scene in Notting Hill when Julia
Roberts and Hugh Grant climb the fence into the park late
 at night?  Yeah, it was something like that except we had
had a few Long Island Iced Teas...  Finally, we made it
home and I realized I lost my corsage, I had wanted to
save it as a memento of the day, it probably fell off in the
climb into the graveyard.  I still think back on this as one
of the top St. Patrick's Days!

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, and tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you
and all that your heart might desire.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Prepping for St. Pat's!

It is almost St. Patrick's Day and if you are planning 
to make Corned Beef and Cabbage, here is the recipe
I have used for probably 20 years.  It has a bit more
zest, a bit more zing, a bit more flavor than just the
traditional boiled pot.
Our family vegetarian will be home for Spring Break
and if it doesn't snow (please, please, please) we will
be heading down to the big city for the parade.  So,
I don't know if we will be having meat this year, but
we will be having Colcannon and Soda Bread!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Filling the House with Blooms

On Sunday we made a stop at Trader Joe's and
they had little bundles of still closed daffodils.  I 
couldn't leave them, they looked so sad, like they
needed someone to take them home and help them
come to life.  When I got home I trimmed the ends
and put them in a pretty little moonstone hobnail
vase and today, a few days later, I woke up to this
sunny vision of Spring!

We also woke up to this ~ yep, another snow
storm (please, please, please let it be the last
of this season).

To get through the awful winter we have had
this year, I try to keep the house filled with the
happiness of blooms.  This is the beautiful plant
my publishing company sent to me on the day I
first saw my book.  It also was the day before I
was leaving for 2 weeks in Spain so I took it over 
to Gam and Trishie's house so they could enjoy the 
beauty.  Trish took such good care of it while I was
 away and she brought it back to my house when I 
returned.  It is still going strong and I hope to plant
it outside once it warms up.

One day last week Mr. Wonderful came home
with these beauties.  He said he knew I'd love
the color.  These flowers are Alstroemeria, also
know as Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas.  We
buy them all the time at the grocery store.  I 
have often heard people ridicule them since they 
are available from the grocery store.

I hope I never become so jaded that I 
could ridicule something as beautiful
as this.

Mr. Wonderful is off today and I woke up 
with the feeling that it was a good day for
antiquing.  Yesterday I spoke with my editor 
for my second book and we both thought 
things were moving along well so I was going
to give myself a day off (gasp!).  Sadly, Mr.
Wonderful is getting a cold and feeling a bit
punky, so we will be sitting by the fire and 
slurping some hot and sour soup ~ maybe
I'll order some seeds today.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Elle's Kitchen: Tabouleh

We love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food
and this was a type of cuisine that in the past we
only used to eat in restaurants.  But now that it is
just the two of us, we have been trying to make 
more food at home and that includes trying things
from our favorite restaurants.  

Today's recipe is for Tabouleh.


1/2 cup bulghur wheat
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
the zest of the lemons
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the bulghur in a bowl, drain and change the water 
a few times, drain.  Cover with boiling water and set aside
for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile chop the vegetables and herbs.

Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest
and salt and pepper with the vegetables.

Drain the bulghur in a strainer, then squeeze 
the bulghur in your hands to get all the water
out and add to the vegetable mixture.  Stir and
refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

We enjoyed this as part of a Mezze Platter.  It also
included olives, feta, hummus, spanakopita and
falafel.  I think next time I would add some garlic
to the tabouleh,  it needed a bit more flavor.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Paczki Time!

We are celebrating Fat Tuesday today and we 
went to a party tonight and ate Paczkis, a Polish
donut treat.  On Fat Tuesday you are supposed
to use up all the goodies in your larder because
tomorrow the Lenten fast begins.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Little Tibet

On Saturday we headed south to visit our
guy in Bloomington.  He has such a busy 
schedule that we only got to spend 2 hours 
with him but we made the most of it and
went out to lunch.  We headed to Kirkwood 
and we were going to go to our favorite
Turkish restaurant when we decided to take
a stroll down the street since the temperature
was above freezing and we were getting another
snow storm later in the day and temps in the 30's
actually felt balmy after the winter we have
endured.  Just down the block we came upon a
restaurant called Little Tibet and in our ongoing
quest to sample the foods of the world, we decided
to give it a try.

The boys had Kham Ando Thugpa, a hearty
stew.  I sampled Mr. Wonderful's and I found
it to be hot but not very flavorful.  The guy
from Bloomington requested a bolder heat 
level that I would call "Scorch Your Esophagus".
I sampled his too and I think I actually was
breathing fire for a bit.

I ordered Sha Balay, described as pan-fried
dough patties filled with seasoned ground beef
and yellow onion.  I didn't get what I ordered.
My patties had just a sliver of beef with no spice,
no onion, sadly...  Well, glad to try something new
and different but this is not food I would get a 
hankering for anytime soon.