...because home doesn't happen overnight.
01.18.15 / Made Me Smile

cajun stew in the works

How was your week? Ours was spent tackling a few little projects around the house and mostly just trying to stay warm. One afternoon Mabrey helped me make the cajun stew from Martha’s One Pot cookbook. (…while the hood vent’s grease filters were soaking in soapy water.) It was soooo good. The perfect comfort food for a chilly evening.

Some comfort links ;) …

*An Ikea kitchen for kids.

*Woven wall hangings are all the rage but have you heard of soundweavings?

*In the future we’ll heat our home with…sweaters?

*A timeless tuxedo kitchen.

annabode coffee station

*The cutest lil’ coffee station. (The rest of the house is pretty cute, too.)

*Anyone looking for a historic house near Cincinnati?

Happy long weekend!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Anna Smith


You already know that meditation is a healthy practice, right? It’s been proven to cultivate self-awareness, improve focus, and benefit the cardiovascular & immune systems. More recently, it’s also been found helpful in eliminating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Steve and I started meditating six years ago with the help of this book. It’s amazing what just 8 minutes a day can do for your mind and body!

That first year of meditating – even for only a few minutes each day – was one of the most genuinely happy years of my life. Which is strange because there were a lot of difficult things going on at that time. Everett was a newborn. I was working as a pharmacist in a high crime area. (Our pharmacy was robbed twice in the 16 months I worked there.) And, consequently, I was applying and interviewing for jobs elsewhere. My mom was battling schizophrenia. She attempted suicide, was in and out of the hospital and, eventually, filed for divorce from my dad. By all accounts, I should have started eating or drinking my sorrows away or had a nervous breakdown. I’m not saying it was easy but I felt like I handled everything with a clear mind even when I was grieving.

Here’s the thing with meditating: it keeps me from getting caught up in the things I can’t change. I’m less reactive. I’m more optimistic. Regular meditation gives me the focus I need to be proactive about the things I can do and / or change. And, in general, I feel more in tune with my body. Maybe that sounds a bit voodoo to those who’ve never meditated before. But it’s all true.

So I don’t know why I let it get away from me. We moved, had another baby, renovated a house and stopped meditating up until a few months ago. I’m so glad we’re back at it.

meditating with kids

At first, Steve and I would meditate together after we put the kids to bed. Then Steve said he thought the kids should try it, too. We started meditating as a family about a month ago and guess what?! The kids LOVE it. After the first 10-minute session, Layne and Everett were begging to do it again. We use the Headspace app. I don’t think it’s marketed toward kids but it’s actually very kid-friendly. There are animated shorts which the boys always look forward watching.

After one month, we’re up to 12-minute sessions! We usually meditate in the boys’ bedroom as a part of their bedtime routine. Layne and Everett (ages 9½ and 6½ respectively) are really into it. They follow the app’s guidance and I love watching them “come to” at the end and stretch with woozy smiles. Mabrey? Well, she’s only 2½ and doesn’t follow along. HOWEVER, she is silent while we meditate. (!) She stays in the room with all of us and usually reads a book or putzes around. It’s not something we tell her to do. I think she just sees us being quiet and knows to do the same. Even if she isn’t meditating per se, I think it’s great for her to witness us doing it. Hey, I’ll take 12 minutes of silent bliss any day!

Do you meditate? Would you try it? Have you ever thought of meditating with your kids?

P.S. – Get some Headspace in book form, too.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


Congrats to Amanda who would play JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound along with some Wilco. So good!

aether cone 1

You know how much I loathe the appearance of TVs, surround sound speakers and subwoofers, right? You also know how much my husband enjoys these audio / visual components. We make it work by compromising. Steve gets his cinema toys but we try to disguise them somewhat so they aren’t the eyesores I think they are. The TV is recessed above the fireplace. Media components are stored out of sight in a modest cabinet. Shelves camouflage wall speakers. A plywood box covers the subwoofer. (I’m still giving the boob speakers the side eye.)

aether cone 2

Well, FINALLY, there is one media component that we both approve of as-is. It’s going to save a lot of marriages ;) Introducing Aether Cone! Have you heard of it? It’s a well-designed, thinking music player. The simple yet striking appearance reminds me of a phonograph, but the portability and learning capabilities bring it into the 21st century. The more you use Cone, the better it gets at selecting songs you love.

aether cone 6

Cone features voice command. You simply touch the button in the center of the player and ask out loud for a radio station, artist or song. It’s so easy my kids were placing requests on their own within a few minutes of setting up the player (which was surprisingly easy as well). Curses! I’m so sick of The Gummy Bear Song. And in case you were wondering, yes, the songs “I Like Potato Chips” and “I Love Pizza” do exist. Unfortunately.

aether cone 7

To jump to a similar song, turn the dial a little. To play something completely different (no more Gummy Bear!), turn the dial a lot. There isn’t a single screen to read. Pretty cool, huh?

rdio vs rdio unlimitedCone gives you free access to over 30 million songs via Rdio. For additional features, you can sign up for a $10 monthly subscription to Rdio Unlimited. They offer a free 30-day trial period if you’re interested, too.

aether cone 4

aether cone 5

There’s roughly a 30-minute window between the time Mabrey goes down for her afternoon nap and the time Everett gets off the school bus. That’s when I get Cone all to myself. I listen to The Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek or really bad good 80s and 90s music. Sometimes, I let Cone do the choosing for me.

We’ve used Cone as background music for dinner, the deejay for family dance parties and the radio for morning NPR listening. You can even listen to podcasts. It’s so versatile. I can’t wait to take it outside on the deck next summer. Come on summer! Until then, Cone is helping us survive cabin fever.

aether cone 3

Does Cone sound like something you and your family would enjoy? Aether is offering up one Cone to one lucky House*Tweaking reader! See entry details below.

PRIZE: one black & copper Aether Cone ($399 retail value)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Follow Aether on instagram here. Then leave a comment on this post proclaiming “CONE ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday, January 19th. One random winner will be chosen and announced Tuesday, January 20th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Share which favorite song, album or artist you would request Cone to play.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking