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.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


A package arrived from California today.
The projects from my next book came back from
the publisher.  They left me last July and have 
been hanging out in Cali having their photos taken.

It was nice to see them again.

In 3 weeks we will be leaving for our big
trip ~ 3 weeks!  And by the time I get back
home sometime in July, it will be time for
my book to be released. 
Something to look forward to!

Remember you can pre-order right now on 
Amazon so you can get your copy ASAP.  
Then you can get  busy making fun projects
for Christmas... or anytime.

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas
around my American Homestead!

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Blue Heron

Many years ago, when I first moved to the Midwest
I had the good fortune to live on a small lake.  I can't
recommend this highly enough ~ there was no need 
for television or other forms of entertainment.  Any
time of the day or night, something was happening 
on the lake, ducks, deer, muskrats and  my favorite,
The Great Blue Heron.  I had seen Blue Herons before
but I never had the chance to study them closely, day
after day.  The herons were an elusive bird, nothing 
like the friendly mallard ducks that adopted me as
their Mom and would try to walk into my house with
me.  We would get together with our neighbors and
marvel at the beauty and grace of the Blue Herons.
They had a 6 foot wingspan and looked almost pre-
historic in flight.

My brother had a friend named Mickey.  Mickey was 
Midwestern boy who moved to New York and worked
in films and on Broadway.  Most people knew him as
Michael but his family called him Mickey and so did we.
Mickey was always scouring the weekend flea markets
for treasures and giving away food and clothing to the
homeless people in his neighborhood.  He was a quiet
guy, he was more the observer than the life of the party.
I remember at one of my brother's parties in his NYC
co-op, I kept seeing Mickey every time I turned around.
He was observing a strange thing that was happening
with me that night.  My brother's co-op is a railroad flat, 
it takes up half of a floor of a building running from front
to back, it is a long series of rooms, much like a train car.
So this night, every time I looked down the length of the
apartment I kept seeing a guy staring at me with rather
confused and pleading eyes, I had no idea who he was.
At one point someone introduced me  and said my 
name, this guy heard and came up to me and said,
 "Ellen, I knew it was you, why are you ignoring me?"
I had NO IDEA WHO HE WAS!  He was sure I was
his ex-girlfriend (who he evidently still had a thing
for) and he was baffled as to why I  (she) would not 
even acknowledge him.  I told him I had no idea who
he was and it was as if I had punched the stuffing out
of him.  He thought I was playing some sort of game
with him and it was hurting him.  Somewhere on Long
Island I have a twin and her name is Ellen.  I explained
that this was my brother's apartment and I didn't live 
on Long Island.  I don't think I ever totally convinced 
this poor guy.  And there was Mickey, enjoying the 
whole thing.

One day, I got a call from my brother with sad news,
Mickey had passed away.  After I got off the phone, I
sat in the one of the wicker chairs by my front window,
I looked outside and there was the Blue Heron.  Not by 
the water, but at my window,  This had NEVER happened
before.  He looked right into my house, right into my eyes
and I said, "Mickey, is that you?"  I truly had the feeling that
this bird somehow had Mickey's spirit in him, watching over
us, observing.  And every time I saw a Heron, I'd say, there's

After this we started noticing a strange happening ~ every
time we were leaving for a trip, whether it was midnight,
5am or anytime during the day, either as we were walking 
out of our house or soon after leaving we would see a Blue
Heron fly through the sky.  And I also say, we will have a
good, safe trip because Mickey is watching over us.

On Wednesday of this week I was starting out on a road
trip to Ohio and what do I see, a Blue Heron flying right 
over my car.  The next day I was in an antique store and
all the way in the back on the floor, resting against a piece
of furniture was a plastic baggie with 3 tiles in it.  One of the 
tiles is the one shown above ~ a Blue Heron.  Of course, I
had to get this!  When I took it up to pay, the guy who 
worked there said he planned to buy the tiles because the
person who put them in their booth had no idea of what
they had and priced them sooo low.  I told him I beat him
to it, what I didn't tell him is that though I realized I found
a score price wise, really what I wanted was to have Mickey
in my house.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How To Go Around The World

The Second Time Around

As many of you remember, four years ago,
two pair of siblings ~ my kids and my brother
and I set off to explore the world.  We 
circumnavigated the globe, we said it was a
trip of a lifetime.  We called it The Last Hurrah
Tour because my daughter Kate had just 
graduated from high school and my son Brennan
would graduate the following year.  We thought
this would be the end of travels with the kids,
they would be going off on their own adventures.

So when I started hearing talk of another big trip
to celebrate the college graduations, I thought to 
myself, "Didn't we already have the trip of a 
lifetime?"  Did this thought stop me from joining 
in?  Oh, of course not.

And here we are, four years later and ready to do
it again.  That brought up the question of where
should we go?  My brother said to me, "When we go
back to Cambodia..."  I questioned why we would go
 back there.  He said he thought we all loved it there
and wanted to return.  This is true we all want to go
back but I wanted this trip to be about discovery, not
revisiting.  So we all talked about it and agreed, we 
should not repeat the places we have already been to.
Now, for my brother, who has traveled everywhere, 
there are many places he has been before but he will
be discovering the places with us for the first time.

People ask us how do we plan all of this?  We will be
blogging about the process of planning a big trip in 
the weeks to come ~ there are many layers.

The first step is where you want to go.  We all gave
a list with ideas and then we started building a plan 
around that.  India was on everyone's list and we 
also wanted to visit Oceania since none of us had ever
traveled there before.  Here is the itinerary:

Prague,Czech Republic
Istanbul, Turkey
Mumbai, India
Delhi, India
Jaipur, India
Pushkar, India
Agra, India
Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Ubud, Bali. Indonesia
Sydney, Australia
Auckland, New Zealand
Tokyo, Japan
Los Angeles, California, USA
Santiago, Chile
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rio de Janiero, Brazil
New York, USA

Eighteen cities, twelve countries, five continents.
The only repeat for me is Istanbul but the kids 
had never been there and it was a great deal so 
we put it on the list.

That is step one, know where you want to go.

Stay tuned for more layers... and adventures.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Now Booking!

I have been booking lectures, workshops and
retreats into late 2016.  If you or your group
have an interest, please take a look at my 
Lecture/Workshop page  on my website.  If you 
have questions, talk to me, I'm very open to
working with your group to make a fantastic
experience that fits your group perfectly.

The photo above is a pincushion I made to 
demonstrate how to use a common kitchen
item to transfer embroidery designs onto 
your dark wool.

In my Wool Gathering lecture aka Everything You
Ever Wanted To Know About Wool Applique But
Didn't Even Know To Ask,  you will learn how to
make a perfectly sized backing from cotton, flannel 
or homespun for your wool applique mats or
tablerunners.  The mat shown above is the demo
piece for this easy process ~ this also uses a common
kitchen item to make it easy for you.

When my next book is released in July, there
will be a new lecture and trunk show about 
the book.  Classes for the projects as well.

In the near future I will be taking a few trips
to western Ohio each month.  If any shops 
or guilds in the area are interested in lectures
or classes, just let me know.

And always remember, I LOVE to travel!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Easter Tree

It is Easter week and one of our little bunnies
will make it home from college to celebrate, the
other one has to work.  Growing up and getting a
job can put such a glitch in your plans for fun...
Today I gathered some branches from the crab
apple tree in the front garden and collected some
of my embroidered ornaments, some decorated 
eggs, some mini blue Christmas balls, a few wreaths
I made as a young bride many years ago and some
prisms from old chandeliers and decorated a tree for 
our dining room table.  Mr. Wonderful  and I rarely
eat in the dining room nowadays, the table seems
too big and empty with just the two of us.  We put 
a smaller table in our family room ~ another sign
of our empty nest honeymoon cottage.

Though it was chilly this morning and we still had
frost, it has turned into a beautiful Spring day.  The
windows in the studio are open and a gentle breeze 
is floating in.  I was able to go out on a hike today
and met up with this beauty.

Yesterday Mr. Wonderful took me out to lunch 
at our new favorite Indian restaurant.

It is close to Trader Joe's so when we eat there
we always stop at TJ's and find something

I left with armloads of flowers and filled the
house with blooms.  For now, we will still have
to buy our flowers but from the look of the 
daffodil bulbs that I divided last Fall, we should 
have a bumper crop in a few weeks.