When it Pays to Spend $14

Some time ago I was window shopping at Pottery Barn during a rare outing all by my lonesome. The store was decorated for fall, and I admired all the beautiful harvest decor and various displays the store employees had put together.  I especially paid attention to the dining table arrangements in hopes of snagging a cool idea or two to use at home in my humble casa.  That’s when I saw these


And these


I loved the way they used filler like leaves and acorns around a pillar candle set inside a simple glass hurricane, and resolved to replicate the idea on my own dining room table.  But, being the cheap, er frugal gal I like to be, I couldn’t imagine why in the world I would want to pay a precious $14 for their cheap, plasticky acorns to “harvest up” my house when I have two perfectly good oak trees growing in my yard.

The next day I snagged a willing helper and we stepped out front. It was raining, but it didn’t matter: we were on a mission. Jonathan willingly held my basket as I stripped as many acorns as I could off the lower branches of our little oak out front. He was thrilled to be gathering acorns, and I was thrilled at how clever I was at saving money.

I purchased some inexpensive white candles to put in some large glass hurricanes, piled my fresh acorns around the bases of the pillars and was pleased with the effect. After a few more simple decorations, our dining room felt more harvesty; nowhere near the magnificence of the grand PB displays, but also nowhere near the cost (again, please pardon the blur on my photos):




Jay arrived home, praised my little decorations, and we settled into fall enjoying the orangey fun of pumpkins, the cinnamony scent of pinecones and the excitement of anticipating some trick-r-treating in a few weeks.

And then one morning in October while my 5th grader sat in the sunny dining room working on her math assignment, she uttered a disgusted cry and called, “Mom! Come quick!”

I ran into the dining room, saw her panicked face, and looked at where she was pointing. And there, inside my harvest hurricane was one of the more disgusting sights I’ve witnessed inside the comforts of my home (you can just stop reading here if you are easily grossed out):

A small army of white grubs crawled in and around my acorns, adding a dimension I had not counted on to these particular harvest decorations. They looked exactly like little maggots, and even my nature girl, Abigail was repulsed by the sight of them. It was especially awful the way the glass magnified their presence and movement…YUCK!

You may thank me for not providing you a photo of this nature moment for your enjoyment. We saw grubs in only one hurricane, so outside it went, we cleaned it out, popped fresh acorns inside, and hoped that was the last of our tiny friends.  But a few days later, Jonathan spotted some of their distant cousins crawling around in the other hurricane…

So apparently our little oak tree’s acorns have grubs in them. Does this impact the vitality of the tree? Should we be concerned?? Are any arborists reading this blog? If so, I’d love your two cents.

Regardless, yesterday morning, credit card in hand, I called Pottery Barn’s catalog division…and ordered me a set of these.


Here’s hoping they are the grub-free variety!

Puppy Cut!

Shasha went to the beauty parlor yesterday for her quarterly ‘do. Since welcoming her to the family we have tried both long and short hair for our pup, and shorter seems to work best for everyone! She still needs to be brushed frequently, but it is a much simpler task! And she looks so cute in her puppy cut: like a fluffy little pom-pom!





Soup Du Jour!

Last Friday the children and I took some homemade chicken noodle soup to my very sick MIL. Well, it was mostly homemade; as I was leaving our house with soup in hand, I managed to drop the bag which was holding the container of soup. The plastic container holding the soup shattered when it hit the concrete floor of the garage, and alas! almost every drop of the precious broth I had coaxed from those chicken bones and vegetables was lost. I replaced the liquid which had drained out with some canned stuff I had on hand, and meekly took what was left of my “get well soup” over to my in-laws’.

In exchange for my rather meager offering, Grammy Ruth bequeathed two lovely squashes to me. For a couple of days I pondered what to do with my pretty acorn and butternut squashes, and after a bit of online searching I was inspired to cook a soup I have never before tried.

Here is the recipe I drew from, though as usual I tinkered significantly with both the ingredients and the method of preparation.

As suggested, I first sauteed an onion and a carrot in butter and olive oil. For my base I used 1 acorn squash, 1 butternut squash, 3 sweet potatoes and 1 granny smith apple.


The recipe suggests boiling all vegetables until tender and then pureeing them in a blender along with chicken or vegetable broth. Given I broke our blender a month or so ago while making pesto (and yes, this has made preparing margaritas somewhat challenging!), I decided to roast the vegetables in the oven and then mash them. In addition to adding a lot of chicken broth, I tossed in some white wine and a good amount of half ‘n’ half.  For spice, I added cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and paprika along with fresh parsley.

We enjoyed the pumpkin-colored soup topped with homemade garlic/asiago croutons which added a nice flavor to the dish.


I assumed that Jonathan, my resident soup-hater would taste one spoonful of this concoction and look woefully at me as if to say “Do I really have to eat this?”, as he often does at the supper table when I’ve served soup. When the soup is potato based he frankly looks more nauseated than pleading. To my surprise and delight, he loved my creation, and finished every drop in his bowl…miraculous!

Oh, and Mommy Ruth, if you are reading this entry, (and I know you are!)  you will be happy to know that my squash/potato mixture made so much soup base that I froze a nice portion for you to use someday when you are feeling more like squash soup.  I assure you that I will do my best this time to not drop it on the garage floor on my way to your house!

Deja Vu Doggie

It was spring, not fall…

Josiah was two years old, not four (sniff, sniff)…

Her name was Dixie, not Lucy…

And hey, we’ve added a cushy rug to the living room…

But the scene yesterday was much the same as it was that day. The exuberant lab stepped out of character, and forsook all other activity to lay by the side of a little boy with a sick tummy.  Such devotion!

That was then…


This is now…


Pumpkin Carving

For whatever reason, we neglected to carve a “jackety-lantern” (Nicolasism) last year for Halloween. We made up for it this year by creating two! I am not the most artistic when it comes to pumpkin-carving, but I branched out and added eyebrows to one pumkin’s face for the first time ever. Oh, I know, I am a crazy girl!

I had two assistants: one who diligently removed all the stringy mess and seeds from inside the pumpkins, and one who alternated between cheering on our efforts and proclaiming how disgusting the insides of the pumpkins smelled to him! I’ll let you decide who did which job.

Pumpkin carving and removing of the pumpkin innards:


I call this pumpkin “Scarface”:


I guess the pics sorta give away who did which parts of the “work” of pumpkin carving.


Here’s the one we called “Happy Jack”:

And finally my two little helpers on our front porch:


One note: Lately, for whatever reason, when we export pictures to the hard drive to drop into blog posts, they sometimes “fuzz out”…become very blurry in comparison to the original shot. Despite fiddling with them to try to compensate, I have not completely corrected the problem, so I will ask my techie guy to see if he can solve this issue soon…for now please accept my apologies for the fuzzy pictures!


Well, that title is certainly a mouthful…it took me three tries to manage to spell it correctly, and I am still stumbling over the pronunciation like it’s a tongue-twister.

Hat-tip to Leslie over at Esperanza del Alma for the idea to try to get back into the spirit of blogging after a pretty long hiatus.  I’ve decided to give


a go! If I am successful, 30 posts in 30 days will be some sort of record for us, especially given the dearth of posts around House of Horne the past few months. I don’t know that I will have much of interest to share with the two readers we still have, but I hope that just the discipline of regular posting will help us stay up with the old blog a bit better.

If you are still a visitor here at House of Horne, God bless you for your faithfulness!  Here’s to more frequent posting from here on out. Or at least for the next 30 days.

Clean Springs

I was listening to Leviticus on the drive into work today, and made a connection of sorts. In Leviticus 11, we learn that when something unclean falls into a container, everything in the container is made unclean. Leviticus 11:36, however, makes an exception for springs and cisterns, which remain clean in spite of contact with uncleanliness.

This reminded me of John 7:38, where Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” We often summarize the New Testament as setting aside the ceremonial aspects of the law, including the Levitical clean/unclean laws. Interestingly, it seems that very law provides the mechanism for its obsolescence. If we are springs of living water, abounding with life, death cannot stick to us. We cannot be made unclean by something unclean contacting us.

Breaking the Silence…

I interrupt almost two months of bloggy silence to bring you an amazing fajita recipe we used tonight to finish off the leftover steak Jay grilled on Labor Day. Yes, well, for me it’s all about the food…


I sliced about a pound of leftover ribeye steak, and marinated it in this amazing concoction:

(Please note: I only had olive oil, so that is what I used. I did include lots of fresh cilantro, but had no coriander or anise; so I subbed in some oregano and cumin for fun!)

I grilled this steak up very lightly since it had already been cooked to medium rare the other day. Next to it on the grill I placed slabs of thickly sliced onion lightly brushed with a mixture of olive oil and brown sugar, which I turned several times till it was soft enough to enjoy. YUM!

We ate it the steak and onions on tortillas with guac, a bit of melted butter, salsa, cheese and sour cream. Oh it was heavenly…and almost (not quite but almost!) as good as….Pappasitos!! And you know how much I LOVE Pappasitos. Sadly, old Pappa is not in my budget these days so I am thankful to have found such a wonderful fajita marinade for those times when I get a craving!!

I will make no promises about future faithfulness to this poor neglected blog. My computer has been a mess for a couple months now, and life has gotten pretty busy in the past few weeks with the start of another year of homeschooling, some major moving around and changing up of rooms in our casa, a new job for hubby, etc.  Things are full, but very good.

Well, until I grace this page with my presence again….May all your fajitas be tasty fajitas!! And now, I am off to read Paddington to my little group of sleepy-headed children.

Ranger’s Game!

We are taking full advantage of the library’s summer reading program, and are loving the freebies the children are earning just by enjoying a good book….or two…or twenty-two!  To date, the four of them have a combined total of over 150 reading hours (the ones they’ve actually logged).

On Sunday night the six of us took advantage of the children’s free tickets, and the half price discounts for all parents, and went for the first time as an entire family to one of our local Rangers’ games, and it was great fun!


Much to the kids’ delight, it was $1 Drumstick night, so we even splurged and bought everyone an ice cream!!


It was a stellar game: our home team started things off with a bang by hitting a home run the very first time up to plate. The play stretched into twelve innings before our Rangers defeated the Twins when the same player hit another homer to bring in another couple runs to wrap things up. Given we had a 3 year old in our party


we left after eight innings, while the game was tied.  But we were thrilled to hear things ended so well!! A huge thank you to the library’s wonderful summer reading program – what a wonderful treat this was!


Keepin’ It Cool in the Heat!

A couple months ago a wonderful neighbor of mine gifted me with some store credit to Lowes. I waited to use it till I could find something that would stretch my dollars as far as possible, especially keeping my eyes open for plants to place along our new back fence, which has looked rather bare since last year. So when I was in the Lowes’ nursery a couple of weeks ago, and saw a table of Star Jasmine vine plants marked way down to be clearanced out, I snatched up a few. After planting them at the base of several posts along the back of our fence, it occurred to me that they looked lonely. Surely, getting a couple more to fill in the gaps would be more aesthetically pleasing, yes??

Without bothering to count before shopping, I somehow came home with exactly the right number to plant a vine at the base of each fence post: no more, no less. Why I chose the afternoon with temps above 103 degrees as the ideal time to plant these, I am not certain…but now that they are in, I feel such a sense of accomplishment. If by some minor miracle I can keep them alive through this heat wave, I will be even happier. But if not, thankfully Lowe’s has a full return policy on any and all plants that perish within a year of purchase.

While I sweated buckets installing my baby plants, the children amused themselves nearby (surprisingly, no, they did not cheerfully offer to help lug dirt or dig holes with me!). Patiently awaiting the treat of running through the lawn sprinklers when Mommy’s hard labor was finished, they amused themself by spraying each other with the hose, and then resting on their towels in the shade. I caught a few cute shots…


Perhaps wearing goggles enhances the picture book experience??


She worked on her knitting – doesn’t every girl put on her favorite swimsuit, and take some time to knit before running like a wild thing through the water sprinkler??


Tending his monster pumpkin plant he started from a seed:


Nicolas actually did jump in and help by watering several of my little vines after I got them in the ground:


And here are my Jasmine babies…I could only get eight of the ten in my picture, but you get the idea:


And a close-up of one little plant that I like to call “Wild Child”: