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

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And these

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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):

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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.

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

NaBloPoMo

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

november

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.

Photo Contest!

One of Sandra and Keith’s beautiful wedding photographs was chosen as a finalist in Engaged Studio’s End of Year Photo Contest.

Go here to vote for your favorite. Unless of course, your favorite is NOT #20, in which case, just feel free to casually move on….heheh!

And Now For Something a Little Different…

As of today we’re halfway through our Cleanup Challenge, so I wanted to take a little break from the messy house pictures and share some more solid food for thought with you instead.

I was reading my friend Kristi’s blog awhile back and was quite struck by a post she wrote on Expectations. I loved what she had to say, and I think her words will likely ring home with more people than just me.  Kristi has graciously agreed to my posting her thoughts here, but when you have a chance I highly recommend a stop over at Gently Led to enjoy some of her other musings.

A confession: when people don’t meet my expectations, I tend to blame them, not my own expectations. I think they could do better than this, if only they tried harder, or if they were more spiritual. (Condemning, aren’t I?) Not that I explicitly think this, but it seems to be my underlying belief. Why else would I be frustrated at them for not doing or being what I want them to do or be?

Probably the only person I don’t usually have unreasonable — i.e. often unmet — expectations of is my son. He is 22 months old. I expect a toddler to sometimes cry, have a low level of frustration tolerance, and to demand a lot of attention. And most of the time, he is lots of fun. Why, I wonder, is it so easy for me to love him and not condemn him, and so hard with other people?

Jesus’ response to the poor widow giving money at the temple offering box shows me the problem with my expectations. After “many rich people put in large sums,” the widow gave “two small copper coins, which make a penny” (Mark 12:41, 42). Jesus said to his disciples, “this woman has put in more than all these who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (v. 43, 44).

How convicting. Jesus knows what spiritual and emotional riches other people have; I don’t. Where I see — and privately condemn — someone’s meager contribution, Jesus sees a heartfelt self-sacrifice.

I’ve always thought it sounded trite and unsatisfying when someone says about people who let them down, “Well, they did the best they could.” Perhaps this is just another way of saying that — but lately I’ve found it helpful, when I’m disappointed with someone’s behavior, to think, “Maybe this is their two cents.” 

~Kristi, of Gently Led, September, 2008

As we are in the midst of the holidays, when we all likely be getting together with family and friends to celebrate in one form or another, our expectations of those we love can come to the forefront of interactions. Sometimes these expectations can be good and right, but oftentimes I think we are the most critical of those who are closest to us, and hold expectations of them that are neither charitable nor healthy. I have seen firsthand the damage and hurt caused by unfair expectations. Not surprisingly, I have been the one harboring the unfair expectations more often than I’d like to admit.

I appreciate Kristi’s reminder to me and all of us about viewing others through Christ’s eyes. If we were to keep this at the forefront of our interactions with family and friends this holiday, how much more grace-filled our Christmas would be! Thanks Kristi, for sharing your two cents.

More From the Maker of the Skirty!!

Some of you may remember this post from January about the debut of the “Skirty”. For those of you who do not know what a “skirty” is….go here:

For what it’s worth, we have found ours to be a great piece of clothing, and Abigail loves to wear it any time she is in a skirt or dress.  Were it up to me (which it isn’t) I would gift every little girl in the world with a skirty!

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Well….after a long wait, it looks like Amoretti Designs is not too far away from launching a spring line of girlie things…and Rebekah Merkle has set up a blog to keep interested customers updated on the latest.

You can get to it here:

Those of you who aren’t familiar with Rebekah may know of her by association: her Dad, Doug Wilson is a pastor, has written many a book for the Christian family, and is a big figure in the Christian Classical school movement.

Rebekah herself is a home-schooling mom to five. Now…..having recently become a home schooling Mom myself, truly I do NOT know how she finds time to design, create, and debut anything close to a spring line of clothing, but then it is no surprise that the Lord blesses some of us with extraordinary gifts!!!

So…take a moment to peek at her blog: you can enter a drawing to win a free skirty, as well be put on her mailing list for her spring preview sale in January.

Rebekah, her mom, and another sister or two blog on issues pertaining to Christian women at Femina.   I often find their insights helpful and encouraging in my own life.

There are advantages

A few days ago, we finished the Recipe View and launched it on Viewzi.

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I think it is a fantastic way to search recipes, and was really excited to show it to Tricia. After about a minute of looking at it, Tricia asks, “Does it have Southern Living recipes?” Well no, as it so happens, it didn’t.

Hmmm… turns out Southern Living hosts their recipes, along with several other magazines, on myrecipes.com. It also turns out myrecipes.com has the sort of data that we need for this particular View (a rich picture contained in a well-labeled div). So now we have Southern Living recipes.

There are advantages to being married to the product manager (that is, the guy who helps decide what gets built next).

Viewzi has launched!

Sunday night found most of us viewzers huddled around a table sorting out the final details for our launch until almost midnight. Thankfully, the table was at a nice country club, so it wasn’t all that bad. Monday morning at 7 a.m., TechCrunch posted their exclusive coverage of our launch. For the next 12 hours, Viewzi was live but only accessible via the TechCrunch link. Then at 7 p.m., the wall came down fully and we were live.

It has gone fantastically! All the new platform code, some of which was written just days before launch, worked flawlessly and the site absorbed a massive increase in traffic without so much as flinching. At 8 p.m. last night, a huge group of us (well, huge for a company of 12) met at Kenichi and celebrated the success with wives, husbands, and even a set of parents. What fun! There’s pretty much no better way to enjoy your success than to eat some raw tuna.

Now go use the coolest search on the internet to find something fun.

Food, folks, and fun

My first post on the Viewzi blog went up a few days ago. More to come over the next few weeks.

Viewzi in the Newzi

Okay, first, let’s just clear up one thing. The whole “newzi” rhyme was Tricia’s idea. So if you loved it, now you know. And if you didn’t, well, there you have it.

Yesterday around 4:30 p.m. a news-team of two showed up at our offices to put together a story on Viewzi’s upcoming live launch. Stephanie Lucero interviewed several of us, got her footage, and had a story run on the 10 p.m. news. We were on the air at about 10:15 p.m. The end of the story included a teaser for a referral code found at the story’s accompanying web article. At approximately 10:22 p.m., our servers became a giant molten blob that sank into the earth’s crust…

Actually, the platform did amazingly. And the story had a fun “local boys try to make good and take on the big-bads of internet search” angle to it. You’ll see me briefly. If it was a movie, I would be listed in the credits as “Man 1, 3 men at a table”. Here’s the video. Enjoy!