Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cider-Roasted Squash

This is a recipe I found years ago in a magazine.  It is a quintessentially fall dish, and you will not believe how good it smells while baking!

8 cups peeled, seeded winter squash, cut into 1" cubes (I like to use butternut)
1 medium onion, cut in wedges
1/4 cup apple cider 
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg or ginger

In a greased 3 qt baking dish, combine squash and onion.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over veggies, tossing to coat.  Bake uncovered at 450°F for 35 minutes or until tender, stirring twice.  Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tech-Challenged Mom Gets iPhone

Yesterday Craig got a new iPhone...not the newest one that comes out tomorrow, but the one that was the newest one a few months ago (4, I think?).  He passed down his iPhone 3 to me.

I have been using a Tracfone that is several years old.  It doesn't have internet.  It doesn't have a camera. I could text, but didn't bother to figure out how.  I paid about $100 a year for all the minutes I needed.  It was a great, simple phone, and I highly recommend Tracfone if you don't like being on a contract and paying big bucks every month.  You can even choose a smart phone if you like.

Anyhoo, that is to say that I am not iPhone savvy.  Up until now, Craig's iPhone was nothing more than a Scrabble machine to me.  If I ever tried to use it for another purpose, invariably I ended up pushing the wrong "button" and messing it up, and getting mad.

So, this is going to be interesting getting up to speed with the "new" technology.  Wish me luck.  Do you have any tips or apps that you just can't live without?

Monday, October 10, 2011


This morning as I was watching for the school bus with my daughter, the sun was at just the right angle that I noticed this enormous, perfect spider web in the little tree in our front yard.

There was also an enormous, fat, size-of-a-half dollar spider in the middle of it, and as my son said, "I don't do spiders".  But I got close enough to take a picture, and although the sun was in my face so I couldn't see the viewfinder, or what I was focused on, I managed to get this cool photo.

We have been having beautiful fall weather for the last week.  It's sunny and warm, the colors are popping out everywhere...a perfect autumn.

A perfect picture of the wonder of God's beautiful world.

Imparting Grace

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The other day I got an email from Rebecca, a senior at UC Davis.  I don’t know Rebecca; she just wanted to let me know that my blog had inspired her.  Isn’t that cool?  She and two friends are living together in a house this year, and were looking for a way to assign chores.  She googled “chore wheel” and found my post.  The chore wheel has been effective for three years in our house, and that’s a record for us.


Here’s her version.  I like how she put it on a bulletin board with a pushpin in the middle to turn it.  So smart and simple…why didn’t I think of that?  Mine turns works fine on its brad, but the pushpin didn’t even occur to me when I was searching high and low to find that stray brad.



I’m impressed that these girls are so organized with their chores and bills.  I honestly don’t remember how we did it when I was living in a house with two other girls.  Of course, I was only 17 and they were 19, so maybe we weren’t too worried about it.

What were you like in college…super organized or not so much?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall Porch

There's no denying it--fall is here!  We are supposed to have glorious weather this week, with cool nights and sunny days around 80 degrees.  This weekend I got my front porch ready for the season.

First off, I needed to redo my DIY vinyl numbers.  After almost two and a half years, they had become brittle and started to flake.  No problem, I just repeated the process.


I'm still loving last year's Dollar Tree wreath, so I put it out again, but added a little embellishment with our initial.  I got it at a thrift store a long time ago, and it just happens to be the perfect color for this wreath (you can also see the new and improved numbers).

Because the wreath is made out of foam board, it was easy to poke a couple of holes in a hidden spot underneath the leaves, and use floral wire to attach the A.  Since the wreath is so light, the letter weighed it down on one side, so I anchored it in place with sticky tack.

Add a couple of pumpkins, and my porch is ready for fall.

{Did you see my announcement?  I hope you'll come visit my new blog!}

Friday, September 30, 2011


Sorry I've been MIA this week.  I've been busy working on another project.
I'd like to announce the public opening of my new blog, Spoons.

It's a little bit scary to put it out there, because it is a totally different side of me, one that I have not addressed here on Homebody.  It's a different topic and a different genre, and I realize that it may not have the same audience.  But I feel like you are my friends, and I hope you'll at least check it out.

As a side note, I decided to try out Wordpress for this venture, and there are some inconsistencies in the appearance of these early posts.  I'm still trying to figure out the ropes.  For the most part, though, I like Wordpress so far, although there are a couple things I'm not in love with.  But maybe I'll figure those out as I go along.

I don't intend to abandon Homebody, so I hope to see you around!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Craigslist Purchase

In the family room, I had a white slipcovered sofa that was a craigslist purchase three years ago.  It's a nice-looking piece, but the slipcover was starting to get raggedy, and honestly, it's not too comfortable.  The cushions are feather-filled, but the seat cushions also have springs, which seem to be bent or something because it's very lumpy.

A few weeks ago I was browsing craigslist, as I often do.  I always search "IKEA", and this time an Ektorp three-seater sofa popped up.  These go really fast on our CL and I figured it would already be gone, but she had just listed it late the night before and I was first in line!  There were others after me who would take it if I didn't.

It was only $125, and I had some money from some ebay sales, so I grabbed it.

The red slipcover works well in the family room, though I do plan to eventually get a new cover.

There are a couple of mysteries about this sofa. I knew it was an older model, and it's definitely well broken-in.  But it is different from my Ektorp sectional and chair, and different from my friend Dixie's two-yr-old  Ektorp sofa.  (It is an Ektorp; the tag says so.)

First, the seat cushions are all foam, and the newer ones have a feather layer.  Second, the seat is deeper; I can sit normally in the new ones with my feet touching the floor, but not this one.  This is not a bad thing; while the new one is comfortable, this one is sink-in comfy-cozy.

I do, however, wonder if a new Ektorp cover is going to fit it.  I haven't tried switching a cushion cover yet, but you can see that the new brown one is wider and thinner than the old red one.

One possibility is that the sectional and sofa cushions are different sizes.  In fact, I just checked and the new sectional cushions are wider than the new chair cushion, so it stands to reason that sectional and sofa could also be different.  But Dixie has confirmed that her sofa cushions feel like my sectional, and not thick and cushy like the red sofa, so there's at least that difference.

Do any of you have an older Ektorp sofa for which you've successfully and recently replaced the cover?  I'm not in a rush to get the new cover, but at some point I'll chat with the IKEA helpline and see what they can tell me.

Oh, a couple of you asked what I was going to do with the spools I got last week.  I didn't have anything specific in mind, and for now they're just in the Coke crate that's on the coffee table.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Living Room Accents

Back in July, you may recall, I got a new Ikea Ektorp sectional and chair for the living room.  The only problem was the Idemo Light Brown color did not go well with the green accents already in the room.  I removed the green rug, curtains, and pillows.

The furniture was nice, but the room was colorless.

After some thought, I decided to go blue, and the hunt began.
First, I found the Medallion Window Panel at Target.  The background is the same color as the walls, and the design is navy and a lighter blue.  Tip:  they only have the 84" length in the store, but you can order 95" online, which I did.

Then I casually began watching craigslist for a rug, and it wasn't long before the perfect one appeared (I always make sure the item comes from a non-smoking household; the rug's home was also pet- and child-free).  I snatched it up for $25, and it coordinates beautifully.

So far, I only have one pillow.  I ordered it from Ballard's with 15% off and free monogramming.
I did also get some fabric to make a couple more pillows, but haven't got around to that yet.

(It's a little difficult to take good photos of my living room without a flash because of the backlighting, but you get the gist.)

You may wonder what that is on the coffee table; it looks a little strange from afar.
It's my collection of beach glass, rocks, and driftwood from the beach at Lake Ontario on our vacation to Canada.  Love!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lost in (Jane) Austen

We recently discontinued our DirectTV service, which was about $80/mo, and instead purchased a Roku box for each of our two main TVs, at a one-time price of about $60 each.  I won't go into explaining Roku, as I don't really know all the ins and outs and it would take too long.  But if you'd like to save a lot of money over your cable/satellite, you really should look into it.

Because of Roku and our Netflix and other subscriptions we got to go with it, I've discovered a lot of shows I didn't know existed.  A few days ago I stumbled on Lost in Austen.  Originally a British mini-series, the Netflix/DVD version is a three hour movie.

I am a big Pride and Prejudice fan, as is Amanda in Lost in Austen.  She is tired of her modern-day London life and her unromantic boyfriend.  One evening she finds Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of P&P, in her bathroom; she has stumbled upon a portal from her world to present-day London.  Amanda and Elizabeth trade places.

Does it make sense (even if you believed in time-travel portals)?  No, and Amanda doesn't get it either.  P&P is a novel, not history.  But she finds herself in 19th century England at the very beginning of the P&P story and a guest of the Bennet family as a "friend" of Elizabeth who, she tells them, has gone away to write a book.  

Amanda, of course, knows how the story should go, but her very presence is changing the plot.  Though she tries, she can't get it back on course, and the P&P characters make different choices than Jane Austen originally wrote.

If you are a hard-core Jane Austen fan who will tolerate no monkey-business when it comes to her writings, you might not like this movie.  I, on the other hand, thought it was funny and creative and did a good job of staying true to JA's characters while going down a "what if?" rabbit trail.  There are a few surprises that aren't in the book, such as Mr. Bennet's first name and the "truth" behind the Wickham/Georgiana scandal.  To quote Amanda, "Jane Austen would be fairly surprised to find she'd written that!".

Two thumbs up!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thrift Store Thursday

I haven't done one of these in a long time, but I hit the jackpot today so I felt like showing off.
I have a very good consignment store close by which sells clothing and household items at reasonable prices.  Next door to it is a much smaller room that they call their outlet.
All clothing, shoes, jewelry, and purses are $1 each.  Household and decor prices vary.

Sometimes I'll stop in and find nothing, sometimes one or two things.  A few times, like today, I've had much better luck.  Here's what I got:

For me, a pair of Loft trouser jeans and a pair of Anne Klein stretch wool dress pants.

 From the Gap, a casual button-down shirt for Craig, and a black blazer for me.

For Firstborn, an Old Navy fleece pullover and a pair of sweatpants.

A heavy winter coat from The Children's Place for Skippy.

And just because I liked them, two vintage industrial weaving spools ($1.75 ea).

Total:  $11 and change.

Other high-yield trips to this consignment outlet:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where Were You?

Where were you?  September 11, 2001 is a date that will forever evoke that question. We each have days that are frozen in our memory:  our wedding day, the birth of a child, the death of a parent.  But September 11, 2001 is a date that we have in common.  We will always remember where we were when we heard about the events that were unfolding.

On that Tuesday morning, we had recently moved to Kentucky.  Everything felt new and exciting.  I had dropped three-yr-old firstborn off at preschool and come back to the house.  I  had left the TV on while I was gone, and in that time, it had gone from mundane news to confusion, worry and images of a smoking tower.  I had to take Skippy to mother's day out in a little while, and then I had to go back to the preschool for a Teddy Bear Picnic. But somewhere in between all that, I saw the second tower get hit, and the first tower fall.
We were doing normal things, but we didn't feel normal.
The world had changed.

We will never forget.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tiny Houses

Hello, friends!  I'm still here.  I was just taking a little break.  I was virtually computerless for a week, but also I didn't feel like I had anything to say.  I guess, just like in my real life, I needed some alone time.  Can I just say how liberating it is to me that I'm no longer trying to run my blog as a business?

So, did you catch Design Star this week?  I thought this was a really fun challenge, one of the best on the show ever (speaking about the challenge concept, not necessarily the designers' results).  Each of the remaining three designers had to completely outfit and decorate a tiny house.

Not just a run-of-the-mill small house, but a Tumbleweed Tiny House.  These little houses are meant to be part of the simple, green living movement.  Some of them are mobile and can be pulled by a truck.  The larger ones (still under 1000 sq ft) are to be built on a foundation.

The show used the Beavan model, which the website says is 99 sq ft.

The inside started out as a plain box.

Inside, the designers had to include a kitchen, bathroom and closet, and spaces for eating, lounging, and sleeping.  

Meg put the closet and bathroom on either side of the door, to create a sense of entry, and to leave the rest of the house wide open.  I thought that was a wise move.  All three put the mattress in a loft over the door, as you can see in Meg's house below (although I think Meg's loft is quite a bit smaller than the other two).

A word about the bathrooms:  as you can see there isn't room for anything in there other than a toilet.  They didn't mention it on the show, but the website says that in the smaller houses, the bathroom is the shower; it's called a "wet bath".  Essentially, it's like having a toilet in your shower stall.

Mark and Karl both put the closet and/or bathroom in the middle of the room, dividing it up in to different spaces.  It did give it a cozy look, but at 99 sq ft, I'm not sure it needed more coziness.

In the end, Mark was sent home, mainly because of his paint and leather belt "argyle" treatment on the walls.

Design Star aside, what do you think of the Tiny House movement?  I think they're super cute and might make a fun weekend cottage, but no way would I want to live in one full-time.  As a matter of fact, if I'm ever so fortunate as to own a cottage, I would like it to be big enough for my kids and (future) grandkids to all gather together.

There is something sweet and idyllic about them.

The Zinn, 99 sq ft

The Gifford, 99 sq ft

The Epu, 89 sq ft

The Whidbey, 461-557 sq ft