The Importance of Thank You's

We sat down around the kitchen table this morning to write thank you notes to our friends and family that blessed us with Christmas gifts this year. Canaan is old enough to write his thank you notes and Ezra, although too young to write, draws pictures as his thank you.

It is so important for me to teach this act of thankfulness to the boys. It is really easy (for me as well) to neglect taking time to acknowledge and show gratitude for the time and money others have spent on us to shower us with gifts during holidays.

We had a wonderful Christmas as a family. Lots of yummy treats, cozy nights watching Mary Poppins, playing with new gifts, and relaxing together as a family.

Next Christmas we will enjoy the addition of our new little guy. It will be another amazing Christmas for sure.

Baking & Playing

So far today I have started pastry dough for 4 tarts and 4 pizzas. The tarts (which I have mentioned before over here) are for neighbors and friends and the pizza dough is for our family pizza night. I still have some french macaroons to make~which is my standard Christmas cookie of choice each year. I use this recipe, which is pretty much foolproof.

Along with baking has been alot of playing. Thankfully we are experiencing a mild spell weather wise this week which means the boys are outdoors more than indoors. Of course, along with outdoor play comes the pitiful cries and complaints of injuries. Today's biggest injury (thus far) was a broom handle to Canaan's mouth (the above picture is Ezra's sorry for hitting Canaan face). They are now settled in with lunch and a short episode of Franklin before a couple hour quiet time this afternoon. I am looking forward to it much more than they are, I am sure.


After 6 months of heat lamps, coop building, poop scooping, watering, and feeding, the chickens have finally started earning their keep. Between the 2 of them we have been given 5 eggs in the past 6 days...not too shabby. They are still small eggs, for sure, but they are perfectly egg shaped, lightly brown colored, and so fun to find each morning.
In this week leading up to Christmas I always hope for something out of a 1930's movie. Candlelit dinners each night, stories by the fire and fresh baked goodies filling our kitchen counters. But in the reality of being 8 months pregnant and having serious sleep deprivation due to trying to find that "perfect" sleeping position, much of my hopes for this week aren't coming to fruition.
I am trying to learn to not beat myself up over the fact that I didn't make the neighbors a pie yet or that we ate dinner in front of the TV last night. But rather to just let life happen and enjoy those few magical moments we do have each day to savor the season.

Comfort Food

As we settle into winter we also settle into a different kind of menu...comfort food. Our summers are full of smoothies, salads, grilled chicken, and bruschetta. Wintertime is when we pull out our recipes for short ribs, soups, pasta, and casseroles.

As unhealthy as some of those winter foods can be, I try to keep them as healthy as possible. I thought I'd share what our menu looked like last week. I love to see what others are making for dinner so I thought you may feel the same!

I will include links for the recipes (hover over the recipe and click)

Monday: Healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad and Mac n' cheese

Tuesday: Vegetable Soup (use your favorite recipe for this one) and salad

Wednesday: Aromatic Noodles with Peanut Lime Sauce

Thursday: Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Broccoli and Wild Rice

Friday: Chicken Pot Pie ( I use a recipe that I came up with years ago) and spinach salad.

Saturday: Beef Stroganoff and steamed veggies

Itty Smitty Designs 2009

(Click here for a complete look at this years designs)

I finished yet another order for a shop recently. It is headed up to Louisville this week. I do love to create, when time allows, and it seems this year afforded alot of time for creating. I was able to squeeze in power sewing sessions during Ezra's daily naptime and occasionally after the boys headed to bed in the evenings.

As insane as I am about finishing projects~ I believe it is really important to not let these endeavors take away from the flow of what is going on in our home. There have been days I wanted to sew right through dinner to get an apron or handbag done but it is far more important that my family not resent the sight of my sewing machine nor that I take away from the precious fleeting moments that I have at home with the boys...there will be many years for sewing when the boys are grown, right?

With that said, I am so thankful that Mike and the boys not only put up with, but encourage my creativity. Equally we encourage Mike's creativity in his home renovations, beer making, and writing. We encourage Canaan's creativity in his cooking and baking, his entrepreneurial dreams, and his paintings. And we encourage Ezra's creativity in his imaginative stories, his break dancing, and his choices in daily soccer outfits.

Reading in Bed

The boys both love to read at night before bed. We usually give them 15 minutes or so to unwind with a book before we come up to say prayers and tuck them in. Canaan often will be in the middle of a book and gets frustrated that he will lose his page if he doesn't finish or that Ezra will take his book while he is at school the next day.
To alleviate this nightly headache, I came up with a solution. A simply sewn book holder for the end of each of their beds. I whipped both of them out in less than an hour and they are so happy with the result. There is a big pocket for the books and 2 smaller pockets in the front~one for a flashlight, the other for bookmarks. It has definitely been one of those easy yet very necessary projects for our home.

Linen and Yarn

In our dining room is a small little Charlie Brown tree. Throughout the year I would occasionally use scrap linen from other projects to make small embroidered ornaments. Then at some point I grabbed my cream colored yarn and made pom poms as well. They all ended up in a small bag in my craft room waiting for the holidays.

I pulled them out last week and put them on our little tree with some white lights. The pictures don' t capture how sweet and nice this little tree really is. I am in love with it. Its simple yet magical and it fits perfectly into our home.

The Marshmallows Company Debut

It has been a whirlwind of a week. Canaan's first order of 12 bags were due to the coffee house last Tuesday. By Friday they called saying they had nearly sold out of all the bags and needed another 24 bags by Saturday night.
So we kicked it into high gear and whipped out another 24 bags before the holiday open house on Saturday night.
Canaan had his own table where he had samples out and bags of marshmallows for sale.
He is the ultimate salesman. He answered questions like a pro and even threw in some added thoughts like "these melt really well in hot chocolate", and "they are all natural, too!." He was cracking Mike and I up all night long. One customer asked how they were made and Canaan's response was "the ingredient list is on the back but I won't tell you temperatures or how they are made." Love that.

We hung around his table for the first hour or so and then he finally looked at us and said "you guys can go walk around or something. You don't need to stand there." He spent the night talking to customers, offering samples, taking breaks to go get food from the catered food table, and chatting with one of his good friends that stopped by to see him.

It was a long and slightly tiring weekend but it was so much fun. Canaan has seemed to flourish with his new business and a new level of independence is emerging. As sentimental as it is to see my 6 year old start spreading his wings just a bit, it is so very exciting.

Alrighty Then...

A couple of days ago we put up our Christmas tree. Like most years over half of our Christmas light strands didn't work so we decided to abort the tree decorating until I could go buy more lights.
So for 2 days now Ezra has taken it upon himself to decorate the tree for us. This includes his pajamas, dixie cups from the bathroom, books, DVD's, his toothpaste (that he uses each night and then places back on the tree), game pieces, candy, etc...
He takes alot of pride in his decorating ability and although it is quite hilarious and charming, I am not sure if we will be able to convince him to take the toothpaste out so we can put Christmas ornaments up.

He also has started apologizing for things he may do in the future. For example, last night he came downstairs and said "I'm sorry" (in his most pitiful tone). We asked him why and he said "I'm sorry that I am going to use a sharp knife to break the big window downstairs someday." (mind you this is in the cutest little 3 year old sqeaky bedtime voice ever). Oh are always giving us something to chuckle (and slightly worry) about.

The Christmas decor is slowly making its way into our home...along with Belgian waffles ~ thanks to an early Christmas present from my parents.
Its hard to believe next Christmas we will have another little boy to add to the mix. We can't wait although we are savoring each moment as a family of 4 this holiday season.

The Marshmallows Company

Canaan's first order is due to the coffee shop today. He is obviously so excited about it all. He already sold out of another order last week and has been diligently making marshmallows, counting/budgeting money, and dreaming up new ideas for his company. The logo design is his~and I absolutely love it. That mug is so stinking amazing.
I keep reminding him that if at any point this isn't fun anymore then to let us know. But honestly, he gets such an excitement out of each aspect of the process. Its so fun to watching our budding entrepreneur.

A New Take on Free Ranging

The chickens have decided that they will take every opportunity to venture onto our outdoor porch during the day. I am not sure what nutritional goodies they think they will find there but nonetheless they have made it their afternoon hang-out pad.
Still no eggs. I have given them stern lectures and told them they need to start earning their obviously hasn't phased them.

Potato Stamping

Doing a bit of stamping and sewing today. Trying to get in gear for this upcoming holiday season.
I really love how much fun printing with potatoes are. I do it so infrequently that I forget how easy and rewarding it is.

Occasional Dumpster Divers

We used to be much more frequent dumpster divers in our younger days (newly married, without kids). Once I found an entire set of antique cast iron skillets being tossed away. We've found really nice yard tools, wooden tables, and chairs in years past. Well its been a while since any of that has happened around here...until last week. Mike came home one day from work lugging in 2 large topiary trees (in his suit and tie, nonetheless) he had found at a Norwalk furniture store. They were moving locations and were getting rid of tons of pillows, cushions, and these topiaries. I think they make a nice addition to our front porch, don't you?

3 months and counting...

Only 3 months to go until baby boy #3 arrives to the Smith homestead. We're excited yet completely unprepared for his pending arrival. There is much to do leading up to his entrance. Clothes to buy, diapers, sheets, nursing gear, etc...

Ah yes, and a name for this little guy would be nice too. That will be an ongoing consideration up till the day, I am sure.

Project Done...Finally

We have finally finished the fall project we started nearly a month ago. We wanted to make fall leaf garland from salt dough leaf ornaments. Sounds easy enough, right? Well overall it is, but each step seemed to take us forever.
Baking the ornaments, painting the ornaments, stringing them on twine, and hanging them was a tedious month long process. Oh well...its done and overall we had a great time making it...and it turned out how we envisioned!

Little Splurges

Budgeting is a big thing around here. We don't necessarily call it "budgeting" but we definitely pinch our pennies and try to do the best with what we make in a one income family.
With that said, we still find it important to splurge occasionally on little things. Today I picked up Canaan from school and he, Ezra and I headed over to the ice cream shop for some ice cream cones.

Part of me was doing the math knowing that I could very well have saved a couple of bucks going across the street to the grocery store and buying a half gallon.

But there is something so wonderful and exciting about an ice cream cone, isn't there? To get to choose your own flavor, choose your cone, and walk out with that very special treat.

Ezra has said "thank you" a million times since we arrived back home. Sweet boy...
I love these simple yet special times and they are worth every extra penny.
I love these barrettes made by fellow blogger Regi

She is selling them for a good cause. Click here for details.

Raising Generous Children

I have no idea how to raise a generous child but I do know we must be doing something right because my sweet boys are just absolutely amazing. Truly...

We decided to take off this morning on a little road trip. While Mike and I were getting ready in the back bedroom I could hear the kitchen faucet turning on and off continually. This usually means Ezra is filling up water bottles, or Canaan is washing his rocks from his rock collection. I didn't think much of it and after about 10 minutes came to the kitchen to see what the boys were up to.

What I walked in to was my sweet Canaan standing at the kitchen sink. He heard me walk in and as he turned to look at me he simply said "I emptied the dishwasher and washed the dishes in the sink for you mom." At that point I burst into tears (I won't mention pregnancy hormones as a reason for that)and ran over to give him a kiss and a hug. Of course he thought I was a bit over dramamtic but how could I help it?

He did it in such a selfless and helpful manner too. He wasn't expecting money or ice cream or extra time playing the Wii. He did it because he truly is growing up to be an incredibly helpful and generous person. And I am so proud and thankful and humbled.

A Simple & Healthy Dinner

Dinner was simple, yet satisfying last night. My new favorite food magazine is
Clean Eating.
I don't subscribe but I love to browse the pages when I am at the bookstore. The grapefruit vinaigrette is by far my new favorite dressing. Ezra loves his apples "marinated" in the dressing for a snack.

Apple, Endive, and Grapefruit Salad

The pasta was dead simple and was full of roasted veggies. I wished I had made some homemade marinara but in a pinch, good quality store bought worked just fine.

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

I have already started soaking the sticky rice for tonight's thai meal. Satay and sticky rice with mangoes. What will you be having?

Unfinished Projects

Last fall I had grand plans for a fall craft never happened. I have been determined to work on it with the boys this fall in hopes of enjoying it for the fall season. The progress is slow. Weeks, in fact. We are near completion and when it is finished, I'll photograph the final outcome.
This got me thinking about the many unfinished projects I have laying around. It would be fantastic to finish them before the end of the year (albeit a bit unrealistic) and start 2010 with a clean slate of ideas. I have several unfinished sewing projects~ half finished aprons, quilt tops, embroidery, photographs to organize, and paintings to work on.
I am a "completer" by nature (if that is even a personality trait). It irritates me to leave things unfinished. I have been trying, with some success, to retrain my brain to accept these unfinished projects for what they are.
One day when the kids are at college and I am wondering what to do with my time it will be nice to have a stack of quilts and embroidery to finish, right?

Making Space

We live in a quaint home. It is large for us (and most of the world) at 1400 square feet but the American dream~it is rather quaint. We have just one main living space in the house, our family room, which is naturally where our family spends most of the time.
Often I will come in and find the boys have moved furniture around to create more space in that room. Actually, every piece of furniture, including the couch, has felt pads attached to the feet for easy moving by the boys.
This large floor space allows them to use their creativity all the more. Forts are made, games are played, marble mazes are constructed, and yoga dvd's are used for yoga time.
The longer we live in this home and utilize this space I firmly believe that having less has created a much more "full life" experience for all of us. It allows us freedom to move through our home with ease and when necessary~ create space in an instant.
And just as quickly as they can deconstruct the room, they put it back together. In fact, over time I have taught them how to straighten the family room themselves. Nearly each time we leave the house, it is their responsibility to make sure that the room is looking nice (not only does this help me out in the obvious way but it also gives me a few extra minutes to get ready without them begging to get out the door). They LOVE this job. They take pride in laying the quilts over the furniture~ rolling up the yoga mats~ putting away toys. Canaan's new idea is to put one magazine, from our stack of magazines, onto each piece of furniture so it looks like a bookstore (his words).
Although I typically would not drape a quilt over the entire chair or lay all of our magazines out on display it is so heartwarming to see them take care of our home along with Mike and I.
Now if I could just get them to put their clothes away in their drawer..hmm.....

Thanksgiving Day Menu

My Thanksgiving Day Menu is the #1 google search under "Thanksgiving Day Menu"! How fun is that? Here is my original menu from 2006

Each fall I sit down and start gathering recipes for our Thanksgiving Day Menu. This year is no exception. Being pregnant has made a bit of an impression on my menu choices. I am avoiding garlic (so yucky right now), and certain other flavors I find myself steering away from. Nonetheless, I am excited about trying some new recipes, repeating old ones, and having a great day with my family.

Thanksgiving Day Menu 2009

*Most of these recipes can be found online (I'll link to them) and most of the menu is make ahead~ which is my favorite way to cook and entertain.

Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Sourdough Croutons
Spicy Three Cheese Spread with toasted baguettes (Williams Sonoma recipe)

Apple, Dried Cherry and Walnut Salad with Maple Dressing

Main Dishes
Perfect Roast Turkey
Maple Glazed Carrots
Cranberry Sauce with Cider and Cinnamon (Williams Sonoma)
Peachy Sweet Potato Casserole (I am going to mash this together~opposed to the recipe directions)
Classic Green Bean Casserole (use your favorite)
Mashed Potatoes (also use your favorite)
Pear and Pecan Stuffing


Pumpkin Pie
Coffee Pecan Tart (from Once Upon a Tart Cookbook)
Alsatin Apple Tart (Once Upon a Tart)

*Make A Couple of Days Ahead*
Soup~ Cranberry Sauce~ Pie Crusts

*Make A Day Ahead*
Cheese Spread~ Prep Salad and Dressing~ Cut Carrots~ Assemble Sweet Potato Casserole and Green Bean Casserole~ Make Bread for Stuffing~

*Thanksgiving Day*
Prepare Turkey~ Assemble Stuffing~ Assemble and Bake Desserts~ Bake Casseroles~ Assemble Salad~ Toast baguette slices~ Make Mashed Potatoes~ Make Carrots

Fall Mornings with Ezra

Ezra and I have been having great fun playing outdoors, crafting, and enjoying the season. As much as Canaan loves school I do miss having him home to enjoy these days with us.
On the other hand though, I fondly remember my special days with Canaan before Ezra came along and now it is wonderful to have these kinds of days with Ezra before the new little one arrives this winter.

Each family has their own philosophy on having children. Some like to have them close together so they will play well together and grow up together. We have found that we thouroughly enjoy spacing our children apart and having these precious times with each one. It will be quite a difference having a 7 year old and a newborn in the house, but for us it has worked beautifully.

(more on this craft to come...)

Shop Order

After hours of sewing over the past couple of weeks, I have finally caught up on items for the store. It is SUCH a relief! I have sent my sewing machine away on vacation to a dark, quiet corner of the house and cleaned the dining room of all traces of fabric , pin cushions, and spools of thread.
As much as I enjoy sewing, I also enjoy being fully caught up and not having to sew for a while....probably about a week.
So this week, we'll enjoy fun days outside, baking, cooking, organizing the house, and playing games.

Welcome Fall

We took our first riverboat ride yesterday. It was a gorgeous fall afternoon as we drove down to Shaker Village and suprised the boys with a boat ride. The weather seriously could not be more perfect and we had such a fun time as a family.

A fellow boat passenger offered to take a photo of all of us. I love how the sun reflected a light right on my belly~where sweet baby boy #3 is.

Life These Days...

Soccer practices

homemade cheese



long walks in the backyard

Wool Christmas Stockings

I find it nearly impossible to find good quality 100% wool at our local fabric store. I have been wanting to make wool stockings each Christmas but have been frustrated by my lack of supplies to do so. This weekend I decided to venture out to a few thrift stores and see what ideas came to mind.
What I came home with was 1 wool sweater, 1 pair of plaid wool pants, and 2 wool skirts. All which now have become these...

I also have scraps leftover to make some patchwork pillows.

The stockings were incredibly easy. I used a simple McCall's pattern and had four done within 2 hours (after cutting the fabric). Plus it is nice to know that the materials are re-purposed and thus I am "eco-friendly girl!!"
These, along with alot of other things, are headed up to the shop today. I am busily getting ready for the upcoming holiday shopping season.
My project list includes:

1. wool mens scarves
2. more aprons
3. vintage fabric necklaces
4. throw pillows
5. notecard packs

I'd better get busy!