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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Things Change...

Years ago, we were campers.

We found communing with nature, sleeping 
under the stars, cooking on the campfire to
be fun.  Well, except for the bathrooms.

Once we started staying in nice hotels on 
business trips and renting condos and 
apartments on trips overseas, my camping
days were over.  Marble bathtubs, down
pillows, jacuzzis and saunas in the bathrooms
were divine.  

I realized when you were the Mom, camping
was a whole lot of work.

Every Spring, the Sunday ads were filled
with the latest camping gear.  We bought 
so much stuff through the years that we had 
a shed filled with every camping item you
 could imagine.

Mr. Wonderful was about to send it all to
Goodwill this summer.  I said, hold on a bit 
longer, the kids may want to use it,  they 
are getting to the age when we first started
camping.  And lo and behold, a few weeks 
later Katie said she was going on a camping
trip, could she use our stuff?

Wonderful has a few vacation days that
he has to use by the end of August.  We
are spending a few weeks in Playa del
Carmen, Cozumel and Cancun in 
December and next summer we are planning
another BIG trip so I suggested we save 
money by taking a camping vacation next
month.  He said, you? camping?

Well, I'm thinking of it more as just cheap
accommodation.  I don't plan to hang out
at the campground all day, I have jam packed
plans for the days and figure we will just head
back at night and crash.

Last night before bed we went outside to look
at the stars and the temperature was in the
40's F.  Very odd for our summers, much more
like Fall.  Here is how our conversation went:

Me: Brrrr, it's cold.

Wonderful: Imagine if it is this cold when we 
are camping.

Me: Well....

Wonderful: So, we should look into hotels.

Me: But, we can cuddle up and throw on 
extra quilts.
Wait a minute!  Am I actually trying to 
convince you to go camping?
Ohhh, how times have changed....

One of our best vacations ever was back before
we were married.  We spent a few weeks in the
Canadian Maritimes, we camped the entire time.
It was fantastic, the scenery was beautiful, the 
people we met were lovely and we ate lobster
for at least one meal a day.  

Nowadays, you hear about glamping or glamorous
camping.  Well, we were doing that decades ago
except we called it Out of Africa camping.  We brought
our china (we actually had china just for camping) and
crystal and set up a beautiful campsite.

We drove to Maine from New Jersey, took the 
Bluenose ferry to Nova Scotia and then explored
all of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  We 
would take these little ferries shown above to take
you across a little strip of water, but it could save 
you a hundred kilometers of driving.
It was unforgettable.  

So, if all goes well, we will be heading into 
western New York and up into Canada by 
way of Niagara Falls.  

Stay tuned and I'll let you know how the
camping goes...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Elle's Kitchen: Garden Mish-Mash

Late July at my American Homestead means we
start to harvest veggies from the garden.  Here,
at Avalon, we have half of our back garden as a 
picturesque area with a pond, a butterfly garden,
perennial plantings and a gazebo.  The other half
of the garden is the working area, it has the clothes
line for drying clothes, the garden sheds and our
kitchen garden.

A few nights ago I pulled a few things out of the 
garden to make a vegetarian dish.  It is a bit
ratatouille-ish and a bit Shepherd's pie-ish but
I just called it Garden Mish Mash.


1 zuchinni and 1 summer squash - quarted and sliced

1 onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, pressed

olive oil

Hunt's fire-roasted diced tomatoes

mashed potatoes - we had some left over.

Heat some olive oil and saute onion until 
translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add garlic, zucchini and summer squash,  cover
and simmer until squash is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cover again and simmer for about
5 to 10 minutes.  You want the flavors to come together.

Place the mixture in individual ovenproof 
casseroles. (I bought these in the markets 
in Spain and I smile every time I use them.)
Top with the mashed potatoes,  (if using 
leftovers, microwave for a minute) swirl a fork
through the potatoes to make ridges, I 
sprinkled some smoked papkika on top for
added color.

Put them under the broiler until the potatoes
begin to brown.

I served mine with some fresh picked Emerite 
Filet pole beans (I highly recommend them) that 
I steamed, then tossed with some butter and lemon 
zest ~ perfection!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Elle's Kitchen: Bacon Pancakes

I have been seeing this recipe on Pinterest
for a while and since Brennan is leaving us
for a few weeks, I thought we should send
him off with a hearty breakfast.
In researching this recipe, I found it was 
first developed by the Aunt Jemina company
in 1962, though it has been around for a long
time, I never heard of it until recently.

Cook the bacon on a tray in a 365 degree F oven
for 10 to 15  minutes or longer until fully cooked.

Place the bacon strips on a griddle or in a 
pan, make sure to grease the griddle or pan
with some of the bacon grease, butter or Pam.
Pour prepared pancake batter over the bacon.
Wait for the pancake to bubble around the edges,
it won't bubble where the bacon is.

Flip and cook on the other side.

Serve with butter and maple syrup.

We rarely have a big hot breakfast around 
here these days.  We are all too busy and 
eat at different times.  Today we sat around
the table talking, about travel, of course and 
pulled out the World Atlas to dream of future

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life According to Plan

When we were young Mr. Wonderful and I lived 
the Big City life and it was great.  But we learned
after a few years that it was not what we wanted
We didn't write up a plan that sitting on the deck 
or in the gazebo of our back garden while enjoying
an iced coffee was going to make us happy but that
style of living was certainly part of the plan.

It has turned out that those little things in life have 
made us so happy.  Enjoying nature in our garden
can make us giddy with joy.

The happiness we get from watching the antics
of the birds in our garden is incredible.

We fill up the feeders and the show begins.

Melissa, do you remember this behemoth of 
a feeder from your visit all those years ago?
It is still in use, though a bit worse for wear...

We do have a thief though.  Some fairly large
animal is raiding the feeders at night.  He crushed 
one of our purple cone flowers.

And smashed this sedum autumn joy.  What can 
this animal be?  I think we will have to do a 
night watch to see.

The working side of our back garden is our little
farm.  It is so nice to run out and grab some fresh
veggies for dinner.  When I travel on trains in Europe
I can see little veggie patches in all the back yards.
What has happened in our country that so many 
people never do this anymore?  When I was young
it seemed like everyone had a little garden out back.

We love sharing our photos and stories on
facebook with other nature lovers.  This
simple life has brought us so much joy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Christmas in July at The Back Door Quilt Shop

It is time to start working on all the Christmas 
projects!  Yes, it may have snuck up on many
of us but it is JULY ~ how did that happen?
And the perfect way to do that is at a 
Christmas in July celebration!

I will be at the famous Back Door Quilt
Shop this Saturday July 12 from 9 to 3.
The Back Door is a destination quilt shop
located at 2503 Fairview Place, Ste. W in
Greenwood Indiana, (317) 882-2120.  The
owners of this shop have been in business
together for 41 years.

I will be there for a Meet the Designer day.
We can celebrate some woolie wonders with
my Christmas ornaments.

If you haven't done embroidery stitches in 
a while ~ no worries.  There will be a hands
on Stitching Demo that will give you all the
information and skills you will need to stitch
up a storm.
Many of my customers make the ornament/
pincushion patterns for friends, all their
co-workers and especially children and 
grandchildren.  Some lovely stitchers make
many ornaments for their loved ones so when
those kids or grandkids are old enough to
have their own homes with their own trees
they will have a collection of lovely hand
made ornaments from their Mom or Grandma.
Start a tradition now!

You can also hear the story behind my book
and see a trunk show of all the quilts from the
book.  I'll also be available to sign books too.

So here's the days schedule:

10:30 - Story of the Wool Work and
Wool Trunk Show

11:30 - Hands on Stitching Demo

12:30 - How I became a designer and
got a book contract

1:30 - Trunk show of quilts from the book

2:30 -Trivia contest with prizes

I'll be in the shop all say so there will be
plenty of time for chatting and stories.

I hope you will stop by!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Building the Empire: Fun Book News

So I walked into a quilt shop on Saturday and I met a
quilter who has my book in her hand and she is buying 
fabric to make the Beach House quilt,  I walked a bit
 further into the shop and met another quilter who has
made the Colonial Saltbox quilt from my book, and she
only bought the book last week!
Oh yeah, that felt awesome...

When we compare the quilt to my quilt from 
the book we see this quilter has decided to use
only 3 fabrics.  In the original I used 8 different
cheddar fabrics in the center checkerboard area
and then used those fabrics in the corners as 
well.  I think it is great when quilters make a 
quilt their own.  I always tell students to 
remember this is their quilt and they can make
changes to suit their tastes.

This quilt design started when I bought this
roll of cheddars.  I knew I wanted to use all
of the fabrics in one quilt.  I had seen a game
board when I was visiting Colonial Williamsburg
and thought it would make a great quilt, so 
using these 2 things as inspiration, a new quilt
design was born.  This was the quilt I used
to show a sample chapter in my book proposal
and it was what shaped the idea for...

... my book, American Homestead Quilts.
The Colonial Saltbox quilt was the first 
quilt I made for the book and then I went
forward to design 8 other quilts inspired
by iconic American homes.

This is another version of the quilt using
a more scrappy style.  I think I may have
to make this one, I rather like it.

If you should spot my book out there in a
quilt shop, book store or library, please take
a picture and send it to me.  Or, if you or
someone you know has made one of the 
quilts, by all means, let me see it!  It is one
of the joys of being a designer to see how
someone else interprets your design!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

From Friar Park

Scan not a friend 

with a microscopic glass 

You know his faults, 

now let his foibles pass...

                     ...from George's garden

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy July 4th!

It is Independence Day here in the United States.
While the eastern edge of the country is dealing
with a hurricane, we in the Midwest are enjoying
perfect weather.  The sun is shining, a cool gentle
breeze is unfurling all the flags, it is the coolest 
July 4th I can remember in years, we are usually
scorched on this day.  

Katie Rose & I rode our bikes up to our town parade
today.  We used to be in the parade in our Girl Scout
and Cub Scout days, now we just watch.

The Boy Scouts lead the parade.

This reminds me of Mayberry.

Living in a small American town is
very much like Mayberry but my
town is even smaller than that.

But on July 4th the Main Street is filled
with people out to enjoy the parade.

Our small town has a devoted group
of volunteer firefighters.

It must be fun to ride in this but I  
hope they were straped in.

My friend Nancy is riding on this
John Deere tractor.

I love these guys but old guys in the hot
 sun doing synchronized formations on their 
motorized trikes make me a little nervous.

My friend Irene was riding with her 
motorcycle group.  I think she is having
a cookout for 40 people today, she is a 
woman who burns the candle at both ends...

I love this little car, maybe Mr. Wonderful 
and I will  one day have an American 
Homestead car.

Happy July 4th!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Fun New Family Find

I heard from our family historian, my cousin
Lynne, recently and she told me she found
the wedding announcement for our 
Grandparents in the archives of their local paper.

The article says:

Miss O'Rourke Now Mrs. P. W. Taylor

A very pretty wedding was solemnized at
St. Peter's Church at 10 o'clock this morning
when Miss Nellie O'Rourke, daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. William O'Rourke, of 16 Central Ave,
became the bride of Patrick W. Taylor, son of 
Mrs. M. Taylor.  The ceremony was performed 
by Monsignor John A. O'Grady in the presence 
of a large number of friends,
The bride, who is an extremely attractive young
woman, was handsome in her traveling suit of tan
with large picture hat.  She carried a shower bouquet
of white roses.
Miss Bessie Lyons, of this city, was maid of honor and
was was stunning in a blue suit with picture hat and 
carrying an arm bouquet of pink roses.
Robert E. Taylor, brother of the groom, was best man.
The nuptial music was furnished by Miss Kate Phelan,
in her usual artistic manner.
Following the nuptials a reception was held at the home
of the bride, and later in the afternoon Mr. and Mrs.
Taylor left for their wedding trip, which will be  enjoyed
at Washington, D.C.
Many beautiful gifts were showered upon the couple.
The bride, who was connected with Johnson and 
Johnson's is exceedingly popular with her co-workers,
and this has been demonstrated by the magnificent 
gifts in the form of showers of silver, cut glass and 
linen ahe has received during the past few weeks.
Mr. Taylor is an engineer for the Pennsylvania
Railroad and he and his bride will make their home
in Jersey City.

Lynne says she thinks the photo above is from 
their wedding day.

You can read more about my Grandmother
Nellie here.