Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stinnett Mill update

I talked to my friend/husband's-business partner's wife yesterday.  She just had their FOURTH child, so I went to visit the new little one and bring them dinner.  She's a cutie, that one!  We also talked about their BIG project on the mill and how it's just now getting underway!  I don't have any pictures yet, but I saw some of the remodel plans and it's going to look fantastic!  They literally just started and have only torn out the blue (yes, blue) carpet in the upstairs area.  Keep an eye out for more updates as I make time to go down there and get some pictures!

In the meantime, enjoy these pics of these two planters that I bought at Lowes a few weeks ago.  They are cast to look like little river rocks.  SO cute.  They were $60 a piece, but they had a few chips on them so I asked if I could get a discount.  The sales girl offered me 10%.  My husband said no way, so I asked her to ask her manager if they could do better than that, seeing as they were the last two planters left and they both had chips.  Sure enough...he gave me 50% off!  I got both for the price of one!  That's my kind of deal!  After he gave us that discount, my husband asked if he would take half off the poinsettias because there were a few brown leaves....sigh.  It never hurts to ask, but he gets a little carried away sometimes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Or rather, "the Christmas cards were hung on a window with no glare.."

I was accumulating lots of Christmas cards from friends and family and they were just piling up on my countertop with no place to go.  Rather than buying a card holder, I decided to hang them up with some twine on the back windows in my kitchen.  These are the first thing you see when you come into the kitchen and it is a cheap cheap cheap holiday decoration.  All you need is twine, a stapler and Christmas cards!
a great thing about this, is that you can add lots more rows of cards on the same window or another window in your house where Christmas cheer is needed!

The wreath in the middle was made by Jackson at school.  It's a great centerpiece of the collection, but can also be removed easily to add more cards.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I told you so!

Remember that post I did a while back that discussed how I was married to Mr. Practicality?  Well, I ordered Sloan his very own Pottery Barn Anywhere chair and guess what...

They were watching Sloan's favorite show, Diego.  He really just enjoys the opening theme song and then loses interest.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Better than your average Egg Nog

I hosted my first ever cookie exchange party this weekend and had a fun time chit chatting with lovely girlfriends.  Thanks, ladies, for coming!  We munched on cookies and enjoyed my holiday staple drink: Egg nog punch.  I made this punch for all the Christmas parties that we hosted for my husband's employees at his old company.  It's SOOOOO easy!  I'm not an egg nog fan in general, but this drink is lighter tasting and easier to drink than traditional egg nog...despite the ingredients called for in it!  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Egg Nog Punch

1/2 gallon French Vanilla or Vanilla Bean ice cream
2 quarts egg nog, chilled
1 liter cream soda
Cinnamon for garnish

add semi-melted ice cream to large punch bowl with egg nog and cream soda.  Stir to combine until ice cream is completely melted.  Sprinkle cinnamon on top or sprinkle cinnamon on each cup served!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Today, I'm just thankful for the over abundant blessings in my life.  Sometimes I catch myself complaining and wanting things that I don't have and think that I should. I have lists of things I would like to buy for myself and for my house.  Clothes, furniture, curtains, outdoor furniture, boots, etc.  When it comes down to it, I admit that I do like material things, but that does not mean I am a materialist.  Sometimes I get caught up in it all and forget my blessings, but today, I am feeling almost embarrassed by how blessed I am.

I have a beautiful house that I dreamed and designed.  I have a wonderful, loving, hardworking husband who loves me.  I have parents and a brother who love me and are a big part of my life.  I am blessed to have easily gotten pregnant with two beautiful baby boys and carried them to term.  I am blessed to be able to choose to stay home and raise them instead of having to go to work.  I am blessed to have a law degree that I can use if I choose to go back to work.  I am blessed to have a car with air conditioning, heat, lights that work, etc.

Sometimes it feels silly to talk/blog about home furnishings and decor, but it is something that I enjoy.  It's a hobby for me.  I will continue to talk/blog about design and home decor because I don't think that God wants us to be unhappy and miserable, but He wants us to enjoy the blessings that He bestows on us and to share them with others.  So, this post is just for a little perspective that we should all look at what we do have instead of what we don't have.  No matter how little you think you have, the Lord has blessed you in some way.  If you're not sure, then ask someone to point out a blessing to you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Building a new house!!

Well, I want to build a new house in our old town of Traverse City, Michigan.  Not just any house, but a tiny house.  What is a tiny house?  Check out the plans here.  It's only 875 square feet, but why would you need anymore than that for a vacation cottage?  I've already started thinking about how I would design and decorate the inside.  I am also starting a "Someday" Folder.* 

We've thrown around the idea of buying some land on Long Lake in Traverse City, a lake that we used to live by and building a cottage.  I really really hope that in a few years we will be able to, but for now, I will dream!

As you can tell from their website, tiny houses waste no space.  This is the same philosophy behind Craftsman style houses (my fave) so it's no surprise that these appeal to me.  While I don't think I could live in a tiny house 365 days a year with my husband, two boys, and dog, I do think that it would be the perfect thing to have as a vacation home. The model that I like is the biggest house they have designed, so you know they are tiny houses when 800 something square feet is big!  It's perfect though.  We would build the 3 bedroom plan and the boys would share one room upstairs and we would take the other upstairs room.  Any guests that would come visit would have the downstairs bedroom.  In my mind, I see myself decorating in airy white/light fabrics with natural grass/sisal rugs and beachy items.  It is on a lake of course (in my mind's eye!).

Sigh, someday!

*Someday Folders:  these are folders that group together projects (houses, for me) that you want to build one day and contain ideas and inspirations for the some day that you will build the house.  I had one for 3 years for our current house.  My husband thinks I'm crazy, but I'm just a good planner...and obsessor.  I obsess over things like this and this is a good way for me to organize my obsessions.  If you have even the remotest possibility that you will one day build your own house, start one today!  Put in it floor plans, exterior plans, decorating plans, kitchen plans/pictures, etc.  It is so helpful when that one day comes and you actually have to start making all these decisions!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Sloan!

Today is my sweet baby's first birthday!  I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by!  Sloan, you are a one of a kind.  I love how much you love your brother, Jackson and want to do everything that he does.  I think this is a trend that will continue for years to come!  I love how you have a deep belly chuckle when daddy tickles you on your belly.  I love that you are a momma's boy and that your first word was "mama"!  I am still amazed every time I look at you that you have your daddy's blue blue eyes and fair skin, but your personality has some tell-tale traits of a little Korean!  What a sweet heart you are! Happy birthday, sweet boy!

The day you were born, you looked Korean.  After that, you became your daddy's mini-me.


Monday, November 29, 2010

My dog Brodie

I used to celebrate my dogs' birthdays when they came around, but after two kids, it's hard to make an additional effort to remember.  I remember about a month later.  Well, this past November, my dog Brodie turned 8.  This post is about him! 

He is the best dog I'ver ever had...and that's saying a lot because I've had a few pretty awesome dogs in my life.  He is a full blood pitbull.  We brought him home when he was six weeks old and weighed 6 pounds.  Our chihuahua was bigger than he was.  Now, he weighs 70 pounds.  Even though he is 8 years old, he still has the heart of a puppy.  He frolicks in the backyard and plays ball with all his heart.   The fact that he is a pitbull makes me love him more.  For those of you who are prejudiced against pitbulls, you need to meet Brodie.  He is a people dog and loves attention.  I have raised my two boys with him in our house and my boys love him and he loves my boys--especially when they feed him human food!  Sloan, my baby, loves to climb on him and pat him on the head.  Brodie just lays there and lets him do it.  If he doesn't want that kind of attention, he gets up and walks away.  He has never been aggressive towards either Jackson or Sloan. 

He is the perfect family dog!  Do some research on pitbulls.  Originally, they were bred to be people dogs and their personalities reflect this.  It is a horrible horrible circumstance that some people have chosen to train and teach these dogs to fight and be aggressive.  That is not their nature, and if raised in a loving home that teaches them boundaries and the correct way to behave, they are the most wondeful pets!

Happy birthday, Brodie!  We love you (even if you are spoiled rotten).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

T'is the Season!

Now that we've loosened our belt buckles after a good Thanksgiving meal, it's time to go all out and decorate for Christmas!  Here's a look at some more of the decor in our house.  I've always loved Christmas and decorating for Christmas, but it seems even more special and fun now that Jackson is old enough to get into it and help me and appreciate the decorations!  How fun Christmas is with children!!

My husband had a little scare when he saw this wreath on the door.  He thought I'd screwed in a hook or nailed into the door to hang the wreath.  Nope, just one of those 3M release hooks!

Since our fireplace does not have a traditional mantel, I had to find an alternative place to hang the boys' stockings...

yes, we already decorated our gingerbread house.  Jackson has been asking for days to make it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let the decorating begin...

I started Christmas decorating...before Thanksgiving!  Usually, I wait until the day after, but last year I started and finished all my Christmas decorating before Thanksgiving because my sweet little Sloan was going to be born a few days after Thanksgiving and I didn't want to have to come home from the hospital with a new baby to care for and a whole house to decorate.  This year, I was excited about my new entry table that I had just finished painting. Soooooo...I decided to start there.  I probably won't finish before THanksgiving, but it's a good start, I'd say!  What do you think?

Does the glass globe look familiar? It's the buoy that I bought in Canton, but I took off the roping.  I like it much better this way.

Have I mentioned that I have a thing for decorative birds?  Don't really care for real, live birds, but something about having them in my decor makes me smile.  I bought this little guy on my trip to Canton too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Entry Table project

The entry in my house is not really a grande foyer like you see in some homes, but my house is craftsman style, and grand is not what the craftsman style is about.  However, there is some space there to have an entry table and I finally found an old piece of furniture that I thought filled the space perfectly.  It's got storage too!  I ended up painting it a metallic silver. I'll show another "after" picture of it all decorated for Christmas soon too!

The dresser has a nice shape to it.  It's a little on the traditional side, but I thought I could make it a little more modernized by painting it a metallic silver and dressing it up with modern accessories.
I went ahead and painted the original hardware too.  I don't think it was original to the dresser, but I didn't mind it and it turned out nice after it was painted.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Mudroom...the most underrated room.

The mudroom.  This room has become the single most crucial room in my house(s) since I've had children.  It's the place where everyone (including myself) puts their junk when they first walk into the house.  It's where shoes go, sometimes it's where laundry is done, like mine, because my washer/dryer is in it, it's where the dog sleeps, and it's where most of the mud and dirt and leaves and grass land first so that the rest of my house is spared. 

In our new house (picture below), I designed our mudroom to be the same room as the laundry room because of convenience.  It's great to throw dirty clothes/socks right into the wash instead of trekking all taht dirty stuff upstairs to the hampers in the closets.  My mudroom is also where my dog sleeps and eats.  The mudroom definitely lives up to its name in my house.  If you don't have a designated mudroom in your house, you can still create an area that serves the same purpose.  A section of wall or hallway that leads from your back door or the door to the garage is a great place to hang a shelf, put up some hooks and maybe even a bench, if there is room.  You can even get a cabinet maker to build you some cubbies and shelves if you want the built in look. 

The mudroom.  The most utilized room in my house.

This is the picture I found of a mudroom that I used for inspiration when designing the mudroom in our new house.  It's much cleaner than reality...

This is my mudroom and laundry room.  I gave my cabinet makers the picture above and they reproduced the bench and coat rack area perfectly!  Mine is a little messier than the one above, but atleast the mess stays here instead of overflowing into the rest of the house--namely the kitchen, which I hate a messy kitchen!

I bought these bins at Target and love them.  Each boy has his own to put things like shin guards, trucks, toys, goggles, you name it, inside them.

Perhaps the best thing about my mudroom, is the pocket door to the kitchen.  I can close it off and not see the mess (and keep my dog in the mudroom).  I hung a mirror between the kitchen door and the door to the garage so that I could give myself the once over before heading out the door...you know, don't want to leave the house with baby spit up on the side of my face!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Better than the Box Recipe: Mac n Cheese.

My 4 year old and 11 month old both love macaroni and cheese.  I buy the whole grain kind in the box that costs 89 cents and I buy the organic "velveeta-ish" kind that costs a lot more.  I, and they, have grown tired of both kinds from the box, so tonight I decided that I was skilled enough to make homemade mac and cheese in 10 minutes.  I figured an added bonus would be that there would be no preservatives or extra "junk" in it!  It actually turned out great, so I am sharing my improvised recipe.  Measurements are not precise, so adjust as you see fit- especially depending on the type/amount of pasta you use.

-1 cup uncooked miniature pasta shells (semolina or whole wheat is best)
-1/2 cup milk (any kind but skim)
-2 Tbsp flour
-2 Tbsp butter
-3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in boiling water until done.
In separate saucepan, heat milk and flour over medium high heat, whisking flour into milk.  Heat to simmering, then add the butter, stirring until butter is melted.  Add mozzarella cheese, stirring until melted.
Combing pasta and cheese sauce.  Serve and enjoy!!

House paparazzi

(Note:  Every so often, I will have a "House Paparazzi" post.  These will cover houses that I find and visit and have a certain liking for---usually parade homes or new model homes.)

Ever since we've been together, my husband and I have always loved houses and looking at houses.  We love to stop by an open house when we see one as we drive down a street.  Before we had kids, we used to visit my parents in Dallas and then take a day to visit open homes and model homes.  Sometimes (shhh..don't tell anyone) we would find new houses for sale that were not technically "open", but find an open door or window and go look inside.  Hey, it's not breaking and entering. We just walked around and had a look-see.  Anyway, we love looking at houses and we still try to visit new homes when we can, but it's harder with children in tow.  Here's some pics of a parade home in Austin that we visited last summer.  I was really inspired by this house and used some of that inspiration when designing the interior of our new house.

I love the red windows and the metal roof (but metal roofs are bad for cell phone reception)

Forgive the slight blurriness (camera issues--or operator error) but I loved the light fixtures in the kitchen- very modern, but classic.

The cabinets were shaker style, but I thought having them all wood toned made the kitchen a little dark for my taste. 

L.O.V.E. the transom window above the half bath.  Really wished I could have done this in my house, but I wasn't working with an unlimited budget.  Also loved the frosted glass door, but not sure that would feel very private for those using the bathroom. 

Beautiful stair railing. 

Loved this use of a dark gray glass subway tile in one of the secondary bathrooms.  Almost did this in our house for my boys' bathroom, but decided on less glass tile--so as to be more budget friendly. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blank walls

Blank walls drive me crazy.  Don't get me wrong, I am a strong believer in "less is more" and don't think that every wall should have something on it, but huge expanses of blank wall give me the decorating itch.  Currently, my upstairs hallway that is also part of my office is one huge blank wall.  In my mind, I've thought of many ways to decorate this wall, but I haven't yet...mostly because of budget and time.  Our bonus room/guest room/ play room walls are blank save for one- and it's a huge room.

Part of me wants to just find something that will fill the void and just get it over with, but a bigger part of me says wait.  Wait and let these rooms (and basically the whole house) evolve over time.  I want my home to be personal and I want the decor to reflect that.  I don't want random art that I just bought at a store because it matched the colors of my house (not that I am against buying a piece of art at a store like Target if you really like it).  This is really difficult for me, because I like things to get done.  With every house we have ever lived in, I have all the curtains hung by the second day.  I like the feeling of accomplishment.  But, I know that we will be in our new house for a very long time and I don't want to just finish all the decorating today so that next year I'll look at my house and think: hmmm, this isn't really me, this stuff is boring.  I want to find and gather items on vacations, outings with friends, and gifts from people and put those things in my house so that I can look at them and have a connection to them--whether they evoke memories of a place my family vacationed or whether it's from a loved one.

So, I'm waiting.  Waiting to be inspired and waiting to just happen to find something that I like enough to put a hole in my wall to hang it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Back to Life, Back to Reality...and so glad to be back!

It's been a while since I've posted, but I've been getting ready to go on vacation and then actually on my vacation.  I went to Las Vegas.  Not my dream destination, but my husband has been wanting to go and he was going with his business partner to gamble, so we decided to add a few more days on to his trip so I could fly out and meet him and have some couple time.  We have not been on a vacation with just the two of us since before my firstborn was born--over 4 years ago!  It was high time!  It was SOOO hard to leave my babies, though.  I know, logically, it's no big deal, but I really just don't like being away from my kids.  It's easier for some to be away from their kids for a few days, but I just prefer being around my kids.  With that said, that doesn't mean that I don't need a break some days and need to be alone--there are days when I want no one to talk to me or touch me or wipe their snot on me, etc.  Vegas was great, but I was glad to come home too!

Anyway, Vegas was fun.  It had been ten years since I'd been, so it was fun to go back.  Not much has changed, just a couple new hotels, but Vegas is still Vegas.  Crazy, fun, and expensive (especially if you gamble!).  This time around, we visited the Hoover Dam.  I'd never been and it was amazing to see it and take the tour inside the dam and see how it was built.  The area where it's built is really quite beautiful.  Other than that, we just walked around our hotel/resort and the Venetian and Ceasar's Palace and shopped...or rather I shopped and my husband accompanied me :)

We stayed in the Wynn Hotel and Casino.  It was fabulous!  I took some pics of the hotel/casino and our room.  You'll have to forgive some of the room shots.  They are blurry and I am on the hunt for a much better camera.  I think my iPhone takes better pictures sometimes than my actual camera.

The Wynn and it's sister hotel, The Encore.  Such beautiful hotels and the staff was awesome!

Our room.  I would have taken another pic, but soon after I took this, my husband took a nap and messed up the covers even more...  The headboard was a grasscloth fabric--an idea I'll stow away in the back of my mind for a future project in my house!!

The opposite side from the bed.  The curtains were automatic curtains, so you just had to press a button to open/close them.  It only took us a couple of times trying to manually close the curtains to figure this out! 

The bathroom.  I liked the vanities and the sconces. 

The TV in the bathroom, which my husband completely missed the first day we were there.  I told him about it and he was like "what TV?" 

Shower/bath.  Reminded me a little of my own bathroom. 

The condiment tray... 

OK, this is new to me, but it's been a while since I've been outside of my own home: The treats are on a sensor that detects when an item has been removed, and after 60 seconds, it automatically charges your room account for the removed item. 

The hotel hallway.  I loved the dark brown wallpaper and the dark brown and ivory carpet.  Very luxe. 

These red crystal chandeliers were so fun!  They were in the casino area of the Encore.  They look a little pink in this picture, but trust me, they were super awesome.  I don't think I'd ever have one in my own house, but I just loved them. 

One of the pools at the Wynn.  Somewhere, I read in the brochure, they had a pool for topless sunbathing.  And...no...I did not visit that pool. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Fishers Run house (aka the Michigan house)

In 2006, 6 weeks after I had our first son, Jackson, my husband accepted a promotion and we moved from Austin, Texas to Traverse City, Michigan.  In October. Neither one of us had even visited the place we were about to move to.  I remember the morning we pulled into Traverse City.  It was the first week in October and it was 32 degrees outside at 7 in the morning.  Four days later, it snowed.  Talk about culture shock!  With the baby being born and other things going on, we didn't get a chance to take a house-hunting trip up there before we moved, so we rented a furnished condo while we looked for a house.  and looked.  and looked.  and looked.  I think we ended up looking at close to 50 houses.  It was crazy.  The house we ended up buying wasn't even one that our realtor had in mind to show us, but was on the same street as one that she took us to.  We drove by and I wanted to look at it because it was brand new and I thought "Why not?"  It was leaps and bounds better than anything we had seen, but that might have been because it was priced a little higher than anything we had seen.  Oh well, we both really liked it and could see ourselves living there.  With a brand new baby, neither one of us were looking for a fixer upper.  This one was move in ready....but....

Somehow, we still managed to find a way to have construction crews in our house!!  The basement was unfinished, so we negotiated with the builder to finish it out with a 5th bedroom and bathroom and family room. 

We only lived in the house 6 months before we put it up for sale because my husband had decided that he wanted to do something different with his career- like start his own business.  The house was for sale for a year and half before it sold.  It was a HUGE growing period and a HUGE test of our faith in God.  We learned so much during that time in Michigan.  I look back on it now, and am thankful for that time in our lives.  We learned many valuable lessons and learned to lean more deeply on our faith in the Lord.  I loved our time in that house and will always have sweet memories of that house because that is where Jackson spent the first two years of his life growing up.  We would love to make it a tradition to visit Traverse City at least once a year.  Enjoy some pictures of our time in Traverse city.

The Fishers Run House--Half of our backyard was full of wild blackberry bushes!  Every morning we would wake up and see a group of deer or a gaggle(?) of turkey in the backyard.  The house backed up to a federal forest preserve!

                                  Jackson and Papa walking the pier on Grand Traverse Bay

Leelanau peninsula...home to one of my favorite wineries in Northern Michigan!

Picking cherries--Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the world!

Feeding the ducks downtown at the Farmers Market (which is the best one I've ever been to)

Look at the long sleeves and pants!  It was JUNE!  We were visiting an Iris Farm.

Picking strawberries.

Old Mission Peninsula Lighthouse.  Jackson's second Christmas.

My favorite thing about the Fishers Run house:  the Hickory wood floors!