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, June 29, 2014

A New Feature!

A few years ago when I first started blogging, I
tried to add a new post to the blog everyday.  
Now, this was before I had started my own
business and started writing books.  Let's just 
say there was more time in my life to do things
that I could then write about and more time in 
my life to write about those things.

I realize I don't post as often as I would like 
but hopefully once I meet my current deadlines
I will be able to free up some more time to get 
back to blogging more often.

I heard from Vicki T this week and she asked me
if there was a way to subscribe to my blog and get 
new posts by email.  I said I'd try to figure that out
and amazingly, I did and it was quite easy!  I didn't
even have to consult with the American Homestead
IT department (our college age kids)!  

So, if this is a feature you would like, just look at the 
right hand sidebar of the blog and at the top it says:
Follow by Email.  Just click on the little box, type in 
your email and hit submit. When I add a new post to
the blog it will come to you in your email.  

Thanks for the suggestion Vicki T.!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Present Perfect: Family Cookbook

Recently I was having a conversation with a 
friend and fellow cookbook hoarder lover.  She
was getting new shelves for her new house so
she could store her vast cookbook collection. 
(At this point I must admit I have two large 
barrister's bookcases filled with cookbooks.)
I asked my friend if she actually looks in the
cookbooks anymore, she admitted she doesn't.
I asked because I don't either.  Even if I know
a perfect recipe is in a particular book, generally
I'll just find it online and pull it up on my kindle
in the kitchen.

That got me to thinking, what books would I
keep and what books would I let go of.  That is
when I spied a perfect present I received many
years ago.  When I was getting married, my aunts
and cousins made me a family cookbook.  It is filled
with their favorite recipes to help me in my new
married life.  I love to look through this little book
and remember those who wrote in it, it is especially
poignant as the years go by and some of the 
contributors are no longer with us, but their memory
lives on...

The funniest addition to the book came from
my Aunt Jane.  Aunt Jane always threw great
parties.  The photo above is of many of the
cousins at one of her parties.  We were always 
theatrical family.  That's me, front row on the right.

Here is Aunt Jane's contribution:

These recipes all recorded are
to help you,

Mine is just a friendly word
or two,

Morton, Pepperidge Farm
or Sara Lee,

Put it all together and 
you have me!

Aunt Jane was ahead of her time.  Sandra
Lee of Semi Homemade Fame got a tv show
and book deals for what Aunt Jane had been
doing for years!  Put something on a pretty 
plate and serve it to happy people and who
cares if it was homemade!

This is one cookbook I will never get rid of.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Elle's Kitchen: Linguine with Garlic Scapes

A lovely early summer meal of linguine with
garlic scapes.  What are garlic scapes you may
ask?  They are the flower stems of a garlic bulb.
Garlic growers will remove this stem to produce
a larger bulb.

At our local Saturday morning Farmer's Market
there were many stalls selling scapes.  They seem
to be a hot item this year.  The farmer I bought them
from gave me this easy recipe.  This is the sort of  meal
that I imagine a little old European lady would make for
lunch after foraging in the fields in the early morning.



a handful of garlic scapes, chopped

Butter (I used 3 to 4 tbls.)

grated parmesan cheese

Cook the linguine according to package directions, drain.

Melt the butter in a pan and add scapes, saute for
a few minutes.  Place linguine in a large bowl and
add butter and scapes, add grated parm and toss.

Top with additional parm and serve.

We dined al fresco and with this as our view, it 
made the dinner even better.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Grand Time in Grand Haven

Last weekend we packed the suitcases, packed the
cooler, packed the car and headed north to Michigan.

I think Michigan is one of the nicest places to 
spend the summer.  The days are hot but there
is a breeze from all those lakes and the nights
are cool and great for sleeping.  The landscape 
of western Michigan is filled with fruit orchards.

We stopped at Crane's Pie Pantry for lunch.
I love a business that has been around since 1916.

And if you are eating at the pie pantry ~ well,
you have to have pie!

Finally we made it up to Grand Haven and the 
new summer home of our relatives Pat and Jim.
Grand Haven is a quintessential American small
town.  The downtown is thriving with shops and
restaurants.  This Italian provision store has been
in business since 1907.

We had a great time walking around the neighborhood
looking at all of the beautiful homes.

The homes and gardens are so well kept,
this is an area of many Dutch immigrants
and you can see their roots in how nicely 
they keep their properties.

Of course we went to the Saturday morning
Farmer's Market.

In the morning we could run to the bakery
to get treats for breakfast, there was time
for picnicing, going to the beach, doing some
antiquing, finding some local history and most
importantly time to spend with those we love.

At the end of the day we headed to the beach.

It is so nice to watch the sunset in the 
western sky.

You have to stay to watch the lights come on
on the pier.  They are on a catwalk where the
keeper can walk when the lake gets very rough
and it is impossible to walk on the pier.

A grand time!
Thanks Pat & Jim.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How I Felt Wool

I view my treasure hunting for wool or as I call
it, woolgathering to be as much fun as making the
projects.  I feel the same way about it as I do about 
antiquing, I never look in the pristine glass cases
filled with antiques, I love the hunt through the
boxes of old junk.  It is the same with wool, I can
(and sometimes do) buy beautiful already felted
wool but I LOVE to find it and felt it myself.  I 
look at thrift stores and garage sales for wool 
garments. I try to buy things for $1 or less unless
the wool is really something special.

I like to buy 100% wool items but will buy
a blend as long as the wool content is at least
80%.  I try to buy coats, jackets or long skirts,
I stay away from pants because generally they
are not the right type of wool.  I don't buy 
worsted wool.  What is worsted wool?  It is called
worsted wool because of the way it is made.  In 
the carding process, only the longest threads are
used to make the yarn and this makes for a much
thinner fabric when woven.  It is often used for 
suits and pants and some skirts, especially pleated
ones since worsted wool holds a pleat well.  For 
my purposes to use wool for applique, worsted wool 
is not a good choice since it ravels even after the
felting process.  The more you feel woolens, the 
better you will be able to feel the difference between 
a regular wool yarn and a worsted yarn used to 
weave the fabric.

When I get my purchases home, I cut it up
outdoors if the weather permits.  To felt wool
it is necessary to remove the seams and all 
sewing threads since the threads can cause
the fabric to not felt correctly.  The photo shows
a skirt, I cut off the waistband and the hem 
including any seam tape.  Then I cut off the 
seams completely, I find it is not necessary to
try to pick open the seams since there are so 
many folds at the seams.  I then open the 
pleats with a seam ripper, then the wool pieces
are ready to be felted.

This photo shows the process a bit more
clearly.  On the right side I am cutting off the 
seam, then I will cut just below the tape on
the hem.  The area that has the interfacing
will differ from garment to garment.  This
interfacing pulled off easily and left no residue
so that area was fine.  If the interfacing would 
not come off easily or if it comes off but leaves
pieces of the adhesive on the wool, then I would
just cut that area off completely.

Jackets are harder to deal with but I do use them 
because they have such gorgeous colors.  First I cut
off the cuff, then I cut the sleeve off at the shoulder.
I pull the wool part away from the jacket, leaving the
lining attached to the bodice.

This photo shows the 2 pieces of the sleeve with
the seams removed.  The interfacing on this came
away easily, if it hadn't I would have cut it off.  Then
I used the same process to cut away the back pieces
and the side piece.

You can see the front piece has a heavy
interfacing and since it did not pull away 
easily, I discarded the front sections.  I 
did cut off the pocket fronts.

So here is the amount of wool I got from a
99 cent wool jacket.  Two pockets, two back
pieces, two side pieces and the four pieces 
from the sleeves.

Divide the wool pieces by color taking care with
reds especially since they can bleed and turn
everything pink.  Then wash in hot water with
a cold rinse with detergent.  Dry at the hottest
setting.  NOTE:  Be sure to clean your lint trap
since cut-up wool will give off a lot of lint.

This is what a wool piece looks like when it 
comes out of the dryer.  I like it to look neat
so I quickly press it and trim the edges.

This is what the wool looks like after
felting, pressing and trimming.

I stack the pieces on top of each other and
then roll it, I find it gets less wrinkles this way.

And there you have it!
This may not be for everyone and if it isn't there 
are many beautiful felted wools for sale.  If this 
is your type of thing ~ then give it a try!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pump Up the Patterns

As a pattern designer for the Quilt/Craft industry, 
I design for all skill levels.  My felt patterns with
 embroidery use about five common embroidery
 stitches.  I want my patterns to appeal to all age 
and skill levels.  That said, if you happen to be a 
person that likes to put your own spin on a piece,
 I say go for it!  That's what I would do!

Recently I heard from Lee from Two Thimbles
Quilt Shop in Bellingham, WA.  Lee's shop was
hosting a class to teach my felt ornament patterns.
 The shop has a talented stitcher, Suz, who put her own
spin on my patterns, she changed sizes, tried new
embroidery stitches and added buttons and beads.
They were beautiful.

Look at this gorgeous present, it is better 
than candy or cookies (and less fattening).
I would love to get a present like this.  Imagine
this gift for a grown child celebrating their first
Christmas in their own apartment or for a couple
that has just married and are celebrating their
first Christmas as a married couple.  I can also
imagine making these ornaments for one's
grandkids each year so by the time they leave
home they have their own collection of ornaments
and what a great memory of their Grandma in the

This is a photo taken of the class, so many
busy hands creating art.  Someone is using one
of the felt ornaments to embellish a stocking.
I wish I could be there to join in the fun.

Now let's zoom in on the photo from above and a
confession from me.  I spotted that tabletopper in
the photo and thought WOW, that is fabulous, I
wonder who designed that, hmmm, it looks so 
familiar.  That's when it hit me ~ I designed it!
It is my Grand Isle pattern made with a combo
of batik fabric and felt.  Love it!

And here is a photo sent to me from Little
Scrap Quilt Shop in Kokomo, IN ~ they used
my Petaluma pattern and made it from cotton
fabric and made it into a wallhanging.  Great idea!

Keep those creative juices flowing and keep
on stitchin'.