Monday, January 31, 2011

A painting fool

I've been a painting fool this weekend.  I don't know what has come over me, but I think it might be a combination of the desire to be productive and a desire for new furniture.  Well, I was productive, but I didn't want to spend any money on new furniture, so I painted what I had.  I started, er, continued with sanding and sanding and sanding and sanding (I loathe sanding) and painting my picnic table that I got off Cragslist last summer.  I'm still not done because I only have a few hours during the daylight where I can be outside working on such a messy project without kiddos around.  SOOOOOO... I painted a chair and some side tables.  Here are the sidetables.

These tables have been great because first and foremost, they were free!  The owners of the Maple house left them for us (along with a BUNCH of other furniture, trash, antiques, etc) and I've used them ever since we remodeled that house.  They have nice, heavy marble tops and are made really well.  They were looking a bit beat up and in my quest for new furniture, these fell prey.  I am pleased with how they turned out.  I painted them a creamy white- and it's amazing how much the tables alone brighten up the room.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Did it myself: Sunburst mirror

So, I've been obsessed with a sunburst mirror for a while now, and have looked through pretty much the entire internet trying to find one that didn't cost and arm and a leg.  Didn't have any luck.  BUT....I did run across a few blogs that had DIY instructions for making your own.  So I did!  The hardest part was finding just the right circle mirror to start it off.  For the "rays" I used wooden dowels from WalMart.  Then, I spray painted the whole thing chocolate brown for maximum impact against my beige wall.  Check mine out below!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The last wedding.

I went to a dear friend's wedding this past weekend and it was a little bittersweet.  The wedding was beautiful, but he is the last one from our close-knit highschool group to get married.  Until now, I've relied upon a consistent string of weddings to reunite with these wonderful, old friends.  Now, we will have to make up an excuse to get the whole gang back together!  The wedding was in Dallas, my hometown, so we left the boys with my parents for the night and got a hotel room!  I think this is only the 3rd time we've ever done something like this!  It was great fun and nice to know our boys were having a blast with Grammy and Papa.  We stayed at Le Meridian in Dallas near the Galleria.  It was a beautiful hotel, although the mandatory $20 valet parking left a sour taste in my husband's mouth...oh well!
Enjoy some pics of our lovely suite.  I got some great ideas to put away for a rainy day!

I love the bedside light fixtures.  This gives me an idea I want to try for my own bedroom.

Funky stools

Graphic wallpaper on the couch wall.  I think it was an abstract of a map of a city.

The wallpaper in the bathroom was the same pattern as the drapes.  This inspires me to do a stencil on a wall somewhere in my house that mimics this wallpaper.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I've been reduced to an adjective.

The other day I was at the Y (note, it's no longer the YMCA, but who calls it the YMCA anymore...), and saw a couple of boys that belonged to a friend from church.  I hadn't seen them in a while and I said Hi and asked if they remembered who I was.  I thought that if they did, they might say, yeah, you're from church, or you're Miss Jenny.  Nope.  They said, "yeah, you're Jackson's mom."  Right then, it hit me, I am no longer ME.  I am Jackson/Sloan's mom. 

I'm okay with this, but it just kind of hit me all of a sudden that there is a whole portion of the world (those under the age of 12) that will only know me as "so-and-so's mom".  I'm not Jennifer Blackwell, Attorney, or Jenny Song from high school/college, or Jenny, a friend. I don't even get a name; I get a descriptive label.  I'll take it as a compliment that I'm fulfilling my calling as a mommy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Street corner sofa for sale: $6,500.

No, that's not a typo.  This sofa is for sale for six thousand five hundred dollars.  Four figures for this couch from Anthropologie:
I'm all for the phrase "to each their own" but if this sofa is your style, then I know a dumpster where you can get one for free.  Better yet, just go down to your local Goodwill and if they don't have anything this tattered, then I can loan you my two boys.  All they need is a pair of scissors and ten minutes and you too, can have a tattered, ridiculous sofa.

I would be embarrased to sell this on Craigslist for fifty dollars! Nevermind over six thousand!!

Are you kidding me??  I'm sure it's made with the highest quality wood framing and stuffing, it is from Anthropologie afterall, but seriously, for reals?

Slow cooker Spinach lasagna!

If you're a busy mom like me, or just plain busy, then you probably LOVE slow cooker recipes!  Slow cooker lasagna is nothing new, but I'm not a fan of cooking meat before adding it to the slow cooker only to cook some more.  So, I came up with a VERY simple spinach lasagna.  This recipe is perfect for using whole wheat lasagna noodles because they cook for a long time so they are tender.  Enjoy and remember: my measurements are not always exact when I make up a recipe on the fly, so feel free to adjust as you see fit.

- 1 box whole wheat lasagna noodles
- 1 large container low fat ricotta cheese (sorry, but I don't remember the size- maybe 1 qt?)
- 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed with water squeezed out.
- 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- extra large can/jar prepared pasta sauce (I buy the cans of sauce on the bottom row at the store= they're like 89 cents and are really big)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup water

1.  Spray slow cooker with cooking spray
2.  In a large bowl mix together ricotta cheese and spinach, adding salt and pepper to taste.
3.  Layer 3-4 lasagna noodles on bottom of slow cooker, breaking noodles to fit.
4.  Pour 1/3 of marinara sauce over noodles
5.  Spread 1/3 of ricotta/spinach mixture over noodles
6.  Sprinkle 1/3 of mozzarella over ricotta/spinach mix.
7.  Repeat steps 3-6 two more times, and top with a layer of lasagna noodles and extra 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella.
8. Pour 1 cup of water into slow cooker
9. Cook on low 3-4 hours.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More of Fishers Run

In my previous post about the Fishers Run House, I didn't put any of the inside...I've searched and searched my harddrive for pictures that I took while we lived there, but I guess I didn't take any, or didn't save them.  However, the people who bought the house from us had it on the market recently with pictures, so I am going to post some of those.  It is their decor, but the walls, floors, basic house is the same as when we lived there.  The real estate website I got these off of had tiny images that were all I could use, so sorry that some are so small, but you get the idea. 

Dining room.  My furniture is not as traditional as their's is, but aren't the hickory floors beautiful??? I wished I could have picked them up and taken them back to Texas with me.

Living room.  The river rock fireplace was the first thing that made me love this house.

View of living room from upstairs balcony/walkway.

Kitchen, obviously.

Master bedroom.  Those little windows on the wall threw me for a loop when we first moved in, but I ended up liking them a lot.  They brought in a lot of needed light in the dark, gray winter months.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To bunk or not to bunk?

Camp Bunk Bed
Potterybarn Kids Camp bunkbed
I've fully accepted the fact that I'm a little neurotic when it comes to planning ahead.  My husband has accepted it, but still shakes his head in disbelief every time I tell him those far off plans.

Lately, I've been on a kick to plan out my boys' room when they share...sometime between a year or two years from now.  What?  don't judge.  But...I've hit a snag.  Jackson  l.o.v.e.s. bunkbeds.  Really, what young child doesn't??  But this boy's momma does not love them.  I don't hate them, but I just love the idea/look of two similarily dressed twin beds in a room with coordinating pillows, sheets, and blankets. Bunkbeds just don't do it for me.  Plus, what am I supposed to do with them when the boys are teenagers and too old to have bunkbeds??  More importantly, what about the more immediate future when these boys will launch themselves off the top bunk onto lord-only-knows-what??  And they will. 

Sadly, I don't think this boy is going to get bunkbeds.   Hopefully he'll be happy with the racecar motif I'm planning.  He already has a racecar theme, but I'm going gangbusters when they share a room!

Any opinions on it??

For reals, yo?

Saw this picture on a blog about organizing your pantry.

For reals???  Who's pantry looks like this?  My most organized friends do not have pantries that look like this.  It's just not possible or you have sold your soul to the devil if your pantry (1) looks like this and (2) stays like this.  Just the stacked and neatly ordered canned goods makes me roll my eyes...Not even gonna mention that this person emptied their "vanilla whey protein" powder into a glass canister and labeled it.

I'm just a realist.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Well, this past weekend, we felt we were overdue for our day/weekend trip to Austin, TX, my husband's hometown and the town we lived in for a year, and the town Jackson was born in!  Needless to say, Austin has lots of great memories for us and we always love visiting except that we always have a stronger desire to move back down there after one of these trips!!

We made this trip just a day trip.  I wanted to stop by IKEA on our way into town and after I grabbed a few things I "needed" we made our way to the Hula Hut- our VERY favorite restaurant in the entire world!  If you haven't been, you need to go!  It's a blend of Mexican, Polynesian food, which is SO yummy!  They especially need your patronage right now because most of their outside dining area (which is about half of their seating) was damaged in a fire caused by errant fireworks on New Year's Eve!  They are still open, though, so by all means, go!  I recommend the Huli Huli pupu platter (but only if you are really hungry or have lots of people to feed, or have huge appetites like us Blackwells or the Hawaiian fajitas...soooo yummy.

After getting our fill on deliciousness, we ran a couple more errands and then headed to Zilker Park.  For those of you who have never heard of it, it's kind of like Central Park in NYC, but not as big.  The cool thing about it for us, is that my husband has lots of memories playing there and fishing there when he was little.  It's so fun to take our kiddos there now!  And because pictures are always better at getting such a point across, here are some from our busy Saturday!

This old firetruck is the only thing that remains from the original playground when my husband was little.

The play area has big xylophones that the kids love playing music on.

The Zilker Zephyr!  A train ride must be had everytime you go. 

We had to wait 15 minutes before the train took off, so Jackson had fun chasing pigeons.

checking out the vantage point from a few different seats.

The Little Bitty taking his turn to check it out.

Despite the face, he really was enjoying it.

Pointing to a puppy he sees on the running trail that runs next to a portion of the track.

A view of downtown Austin.  So pretty.  It's changed so much in the last 5 years.  Lots of big skyscraper buildings added to the mix.

An open portion of Zilker park.  Lots of people were playing frisbee and taking their dogs out.

Barton Springs.  SO cool.  A natural pool sourced exclusively by natural springs.  The water is so clear and fresh!  Yes, it was early January and people are swimming--it was 80 degrees in Austin that day.  Just the next day, it was 40 degrees cooler. That's weather in TX...

More of the Springs swimming area.

Ending the day with a red snowcone.

The Little Bitty even got some too!

House paparazzi: Heather Run

Here's a tour of a house that we almost bought a little over a year ago before we realized that we just really wanted to build our own.  We liked this house so much because of its craftsman styling, but in the end, we realized that it was not going to meet our long term needs and we would eventually have to move, which we were trying to stay put for atleast a few years!
I love all the millwork in this house.  Very simple and understated.

Nice wood stairs, which you don't see too often in new homes anymore and the stone accent wall was beautiful.

The kitchen.  It was a little smaller than we prefer, so it was one of the things that we did not like about it, but it's beautiful still and has nice appliances.

View from the kitchen into the living room.

One of the master bath sinks

Love these wood beams in the kitchen.

another view of the stairs in the living room.

the upstairs bathroom.  Bright and sunny.

This is a desk area at the top of the stairs.  I ended up borrowing this idea for our office in our new house.

The media room.  Not crazy about the color of the doors/cabinetry, but love the bar area.

View of living room from stairs...and my oldest little nugget (the only one at that time).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Artist in me

I used to LOVE art classes in school.  I used to draw and occasionally paint on my own time and get lots of enjoyment out of time spent doing so.  I think the last time I painted or drew something was the summer before I went to law school when I had absolutely nothing to do.  That was ten years ago!  Recently I took up painting again and have a few pieces of work to show for it.  I really enjoy my time spent painting when my oldest is at school and my baby is napping.  It's peaceful and quiet and really great alone time.  Very therapeutic for a busy mommy!

For Christmas, I painted a painting to go on top of my entry table.  I knew that I would change it up at some point because I wasn't thrilled with it, but it worked for the time being.  Well, I finally got around to changing it and below is the result.  I painted the names of all the streets that we have lived on.  I also painted a couple of little birds because I have a thing for birds lately.  Not real birds, but decorative birds.  Real birds scare me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Top Ten Things that you never did or thought you would do before you were a mommy

This is a new little installment that I'll periodically write about various subjects.  Today, it's about being a mommy because that issue is front and center in my life right now!

Top Ten things you never did or thought you would do before you were a mommy:

10.  Have the theme song to a random cartoon stuck in your head for days on end (and I'm not talking a mainstream "Dora" or "Diego" theme song...think "Roary the Racecar" that only has two lines to the entire song repeated over and over and over)

9.   Assure a child that everything is going to be okay while he/she is throwing up all over himself/yourself/the bed while really you just want to run screaming or holding your hand to your mouth in the other direction so you don't get the dry heaves.

8.  Give in (albeit rarely) at some point and just give them a piece of candy or toy so they will stop whining/fussing/throwing a fit.

7.  Argue with your child over which cartoon to watch because you like a certain one better than the one he/she wants to watch.

6.  Go to bed at 9:00 not because you are tired, but in self defense because you know they will be up at the crack of dawn or earlier the next morning.

5.  Explain that "no, we do not drop our pants just anywhere or anytime we are outside just because we have to go to the bathroom...especially right outside the reptile exhibit at the zoo.  Wait until we find a bathroom"

4.  You come to hate being sick not because of the being sick and feeling awful part, but because you know when you finally feel better, there is an entire house and family that needs cleaning up and organizing after being left to itself/themselves while you were sick.

3.  Driving in the car by yourself and listening to whatever kind of music you want is the highlight of your week.

2.  You point out every firetruck/ice cream truck/ ambulance/ police car you see while driving...even when there are no children in the car with you.

1.   You actually have the desire to buy and drive a MINIVAN.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


We finally got our hole dug in the backyard for campfires and have had quite a few fires in it since doing so.  It was not the easiest of tasks, being in this part of Texas where the ground is all rock/limestone, but with my little helper, Jackson, we knocked it out in a couple of hours!  For now, we just used rocks we found on our property to edge the pit, but I am considering upgrading to prettier, store bought rocks/stones.  I kind of like the rustic feel of this, though, so I'm not sure that it won't stay like this.  The tree stumps are from the dam area of our lake.  We had to get all of the dead trees and small underbrush cleared off the dam and these were leftover after all the clearing.  I think they make cute little stools!

Monday, January 3, 2011

mini post

If you've noticed, I changed the title.  Playing around with a few names that sound a little better.  We'll see what sticks. :)

Making the bed

There are two kinds of people in the world.  The kind that make their bed everyday and the kind that don't.  Which are you? 

I'm a "Make-the-bed-everyday" kind of person.  I wasn't always in this category, especially in my adolescent years...just ask my mom!  But, the older I got, and especially when I went off to college, I became a bed-maker.  I just got so much gratification out of it.  It takes just a few minutes at the most, and it makes such a big impact in your bedroom.  There can be clothes, toys, or who knows what else scattered on the floor, but if the bed is made, there is still a sense of order and cleanliness. 

If you're not a make the bed every day kind of person, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with you or that you should change.  Having the bed made is good for my mental health.  It's definitely a personal thing.  However, there are times when I just don't make the bed--if I'm not feeling well or my husband is not feeling well, or one of the kids was up all night, then the bed is not likely to get made because more likely than not, a nap is going to be taken in the bed, so why make it?  Which brings me to another point that probably just shows a little bit more of my neurotic side.  If the bed is made and I want to take a nap, I'll sleep perpendicular on the bed between the pillows and the down comforter on the foot of the bed, so as not to mess it up.  I think that's pretty clever... My husband does not do this, but after 8+ years of marriage, he's now trained to atleast put the pillows back the way they were before his nap!!

Lately, the most gratifying effect of this bed making is that my oldest son LOVES having his bed made too!  He gets all excited and giddy when it's made!  I love this!  My husband said he'll grow out  of it, but we'll see...