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, August 27, 2014

Asking For Your Help

Hello readers!

I am a small business trying to become a not
so small business.  At the top of the right side
bar of this blog is the Martha Stewart American
Made Nominee badge.  Please click on it and view
my profile.  Then please click and share on 
facebook and twitter below the photos.  It is a step
to help promote a small American business to a 
larger community.  Thanks for your help!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Malabar Farm

We left New York yesterday and drove on the 
country roads looking for antique stores.  We 
found one and it was closed.  Finally, by Cleveland 
we decided to get back on the interstate and get
to move a bit faster.  We ended up at Malabar Farm.
In this photo the main house is in the center right of
the photo, we spent the night around the corner in the
house that is in the bottom left of the photo, you can see 
it just behind a long farm building.

This month marked the 24th anniversary of 
our move to the Midwest and I have looked 
at the sign for Malabar Farm for all that time
as we took car trips between NJ and IN.
It just took me a while to actually visit.  I knew 
it was the home of an author and screenwriter
but mainly I knew it was where Bogie and Bacall
were married.  We had heard earlier in the week
that Lauren Bacall had passed away and I thought
if there was ever a perfect time to go, it was now.

Malabar Farm was the home of Louis Bromfield, a
Pulitzer prize winning author and later farmer. Bromfield
grew up in the area in central Ohio but went off to seek
fame and fortune.  He had lived in New York and gained
success and in the mid 20's he and his family took a trip
to France and ended up staying for 13 years.  In this time 
he was part of the Lost Generation of writers based in 
Paris after WWI.  He was wildly successful, in those years
 he was making $300 thousand dollars a year and 
anywhere that would have been a fortune but in post 
war France he could live VERY well.

In the late 30's, Bromfield knew another war was
brewing in Europe and decided to bring his family
home to Ohio.  They bought a few adjacent farms
and built on to an existing farmhouse to create his
dream house at Malabar Farm.  The house is much
like it was when his family lived here.  It is a nice,
large comfortable house.  It is the sort of home I 
would like to visit with lots of bookshelves and
comfy chairs.

This is Bromfield's office, the semi-circular desk
was his own design, on the outside are more 

There is also a bed for Bromfield and for his dog 
in the study.  Bromfield was an insomniac and it 
is said he would only sleep a few hours a night.
Perhaps this is why he could write so much.

The Master Bedroom is just next door.
It is a pretty light filled home.

So much is just how the family left it.  These 
magazines have Bromfield's address labels
on them.

And there are bedrooms, many, many bedrooms
because the Bromfield's had many, many guests.
Funny to think so many people from all over the
world would make it to a farmhouse in rural Ohio.
Locals said you never knew who you might see 
around the area.  One day the locals were surprised
to see James Cagney working at the Farm Stand.
I guess it was a nice break from being a celebrity.

This room didn't seem to be in keeping with
the rest of the decor of the house.  The large 
patterned wallpaper with a black background
seemed garish compared to everything else.
Perhaps it was in vogue at the time.

The most famous bedroom was the honeymoon 
room that was used when Bogie and Bacall spent
their honeymoon here.  Everyone always comments
because there were twin beds!  Bromfield and Bogie
were both connected to Hollywood but that was not 
how they knew each other.  They met in New York
when they were both unknown and had a life long

In a sunroom off the dining room is a cake showing
where Bogie and Bacall cut their wedding cake.

After touring the house we were quite hungry so
we went down the road to have lunch at the 
Malabar Inn.  The name Malabar comes from the
Malabar Hills in India.  Bromfield had visited India
and had considered buying a farm there because he
fell in love with the landscape of southern India.
Instead he ended up coming home to Ohio and 
became a farmer using innovative farming practices.

The food at the Inn was delicious.  This was our
appetizer of herbed goat cheese with crostini.

The area is known as Pleasant Valley ~ it is a 
fitting name.  Bromfield believed in organic and
self-sustaining farming methods. Some credit his
writings on farming on preventing a second dust
bowl in the United States.  He was said to be the
Man Who Had Everything ~ what a lovely thought.

Then it was time for us to hit a few antique stores 
and continue West to our American Homestead.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Letchworth State Park

When we left off yesterday we were heading to 
find a forest to sleep in.  We ended up at 
Letchworth State Park.  One of Wonderful's
co-workers had suggested it but he didn't know 
where it was.  As I was reading off local camp
sites, when I said Letchworth, he said, yes, that's
the one we need to go to.
We got there late in the day and set up camp, had
some dinner and sat around the campfire.  We had
no idea about what was special about the park since
we had only seen the campground.  In the morning,
Wonderful was about to cook some eggs and bacon
when I said, "you know, I'm not really the let's eat
breakfast at the campsite kind of girl ~ I'd much 
rather eat out".  With that, Wonderful put every-
thing away and said let's go!  

In reading the park brochure, I saw there was an
inn and said let's go there for breakfast.  The
brochure described the park as the Grand Canyon
of the East.  It wasn't until we left the camping area
that we could really see the splendor of the park.

As we rounded a bend in the road we could see
a beautiful building through the trees.

We parked and started walking through the
garden to the front of the building.  If you look
closely, it looks like fog in the distance.

Coming round to the front of the house, this is
what we saw.  This had been Mr. Letchworth's
home when it was a private estate.

And the fog in the previous photo, well, no, it was
mist from this spectacular waterfall.  Now that's
quite a unique thing to have in your front yard.

The interior is filled with beautiful carvings.

I wonder what the bells are for?

We had a lovely breakfast and chatted with the
other diners as if we were all guests of the house.
The we set out for a hike to walk off the big
breakfast.  Then it was time to start our journey 

We ended up that night at Malabar Farm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Genesee Country Village

We were up early and broke camp at our Lake
Ontario site and headed southeast to Mumford,
NY.  Today we were visiting yet another living
history museum, the Genesee Country Village.

The Genesee Country Village shows 19th century
life in 3 different phases: 
Pioneers 1795-1830
Village Center 1830-1870
Turn of the Century 1880-1920

Pioneer life must have been tough in this 
harsh climate.

This was a time when the old saying of
"make it or make do" really applied.  In 
the early years of the pioneer settlers, they
had to provide their own food, make their 
shelters and make all of the things that they
would need to survive.  It wasn't just that 
you were making your own clothing, you 
were making the cloth to make your own

As with most living history museums, there
was the old schoolhouse.

This museum has a camp for kids so they 
can come every day and experience life in
a different time.  Just thinking about how
different my childhood was compared to my 
children's childhood is quite startling.  Imagine
when you had to make your own bread and go
out to find the eggs to make a meal.  Actually,
I think my kids would have loved to have gone
to a camp like this ~ for a while at least.

Moving into the next time period of village life,
we see how far the community has come in a few
decades.  This house was an example of a Shaker
house.  The Shakers had roots in upstate NY.  The
Shakers were very industrious and we learned they
were the first to offer seeds by catalog.

In this kitchen they were making cheese.  They
were separating the curds and whey and straining
the cheese and molding and pressing it.

This house was the boyhood home of George
Eastmam (founder of Eastman Kodak).  This
is where the quilters hang out so of course I 
especially loved it.  Look at that beauty on the 

This made me want to get busy with 
my own designs.

This woman gave a lecture on hygiene in the
19th century.  It was quite different from the
easy, modern way of life we enjoy now.

Then it was on the the Turn of the Century
area of the village.  This is a beautiful octagonal

I must confess the Victorian era furnishings
seemed so gloomy and overdone after the 
simplicity of the homes from earlier times.

We were lucky to have a beautiful day for 
our visit.  We stayed until closing so we could
see all the museum had to offer.  We skipped 
lunch so as not to waste time so after we exited
we found a shady tree and pulled out our camp
chairs and had a lovely lunch from our cooler
as we listened to the birds.  Then it was time to
pack up and find a forest to sleep in for the night.

I was thinking today of what got me started in
my love for these types of museums,  when I 
was three my family took a trip to Colonial
Willamsburg,  Even though I was very young, 
I still have some memories of that trip.  One of
them has nothing to do with history but with my
own history of embarrassing myself.  I probably
only came up to my Dad's knee, and I had a habit
of wrapping my arm around his calf and leaning on
him.  It seems I did this in one of the exhibits at
Williamsburg but with a bit of a problem ~ it wasn't
my Dad!  I'm still doing weird stuff like that as you 
can see here.  It wasn't just about museums though,
I loved going to other people's houses to see how they
lived and what they ate and how their family's life was
different from my family's life.  I guess I was an
ethnographer before I even knew what that meant.
And today, it still interests me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes Ya Win, Sometimes Ya Lose

So, as I said in a previous post, this was our
first camping trip in about a decade.  That 
meant our tent has been in the shed for about 
a decade.  We considered buying a new tent but
we weren't sure if this was something we would
do again for another ten years ~ or ever.
In the night, it rained, and rained and rained,
all night.  Since the air mattress is basically a
raft, we didn't realize just how bad things were
until we got up in the morning.  It wasn't just 
damp, there were rivulets and puddling.  I sent
Wonderful off to find a laundromat to get the
 bedding dry and I stayed behind bailing, wrestling 
a queen size air mattress inside a tent and just
generally cleaning everything.

Once that chore was out of the way, we 
headed out for the days adventures.  We
stopped at a few antique stores and enjoyed
the beauty of the landscape of western NY.

While stopped at a crossroads we spotted a
roadside hot dog stand and pulled in.  When
ordering, Wonderful was asked if he wanted 
a regular or a Sahlen's.  The guy behind him in 
line said, "Get the Sahlen's".  Frankly, (haha)
I couldn't taste a difference from a regular dog.
We just split one and were still hungry when I
saw a kid walking out with sweet potato fries.
We couldn't resist, my advice would be to change
the name to Sparky's Sweeties, the fries were

After many twists and turns we arrived at our destination
for the day, the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Museum.  Now
you all know how much I love living history museums but
this was one we had a problem with.  When we were paying 
the cashier said some of the buildings are closed because they
didn't have enough staff.

We walked outside and could look through the
doorway of the one room school.

As we walked on ~ closed...

...closed.  There was no one in sight.
We had just been charged $8 each to take 
a 10 minute walk.  It was so bad we had 
to ask for our money back.  I hate having to
do that but in principle it was just not right
to charge an admission to a closed museum.

To try to make up for this bad experience,
we headed across the border to Canada.  The
day before we had planned to visit the Botanic
Gardens but we ran out of time.  This is a lovely
garden to wander through. 

Canadians are keen gardeners and we have 
enjoyed these gardens many times.

There is a horticultural school on the property
and the students maintain the garden as part of
their three year program.

Our college friend Linda lives in western NY
and she gave us names of the best places for
local foods.  Once we crossed back to the US
and got phone service again, we found out the
recommended places were over an hour away
so we went to a place just over the bridge in
Lewiston.  We tried the Beef on Weck, named
for the type of roll, that is caraway seed and 
salt on top.  I found it to be too salty.

Luckily, we also ordered a Haystack ~ it was
delicious.  We often will order a few things and
cut them up so we can sample all the best things.

And here's a travel note:  Ask on social media for
recommendations for the area you will be visiting.
Our friend Linda told us about the long waits at the
border crossings so that prompted us to camp in
the US rather than in Canada as originally planned.
That worked out great for us.  Thanks Linda!