Friday, August 31, 2012

Country Living 2nd Annual Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards






There are a few things in life that chart one's course for certain things. In my case, Country Living magazine certainly charted a course for my decorating style, my approach to bright, clean living and my love of a simpler, less hectic way of life. Growing up a city girl, the idea of country living was a foreign one. But as a young bride starting out in a 600 square foot apartment, the pages of that magazine definitely made a lasting impression. I still keep many of my favorite issues, dating back to early 2000, in a nook above our large bookshelf in the bedroom. I still draw tons of ideas and inspiration for life, work and play.

Needless to say, it is a complete honor to be nominated in the Lifestyle Blog of the Year category this year as well as a nominee for a Readers Choice Award. The competition is spectacular. I feel so honored to be named alongside these other amazing blogs.

If you feel so inclined, I'd love your vote. Everyday between now and September 17th you can vote ~ just click the icon below. Besides the recognition, the award comes with a trip to NYC. And for this girl that has never been to the Big Apple but dreamed of growing up and being an artist in NYC, that would be a dream come true~

Favorite Things Friday


Its been a few weeks since we've had a Favorite Things Friday here on the blog.
My, how summertime will throw a perfectly good schedule off course...in the best of ways.
You can see some previous installments here, although, this week, my favorite things can't be contained on the back of an old wooden box. So here they are, in pictures~

Working and dreaming towards something big~ oh, I can't wait to share!
A movie that swept me away to another time and place
Cooling temperatures ushering in the start of Saturday morning family tennis matches

The best sweet tea and granola from this company~ Sweetgrass Granola


Laughing~

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thanksgiving in August



I absolutely love Thanksgiving. Well, for starters, I am a cold weather kind of girl. Nothing is better than a pair of thermal pants tucked into leg warmers and a big chunky wool sweater hanging down to my thighs. And besides the whole wardrobe factor, Thanksgiving has comfort food and the comfort of friends and family and mingling and tradition... I am a sucker for those sorts of things. I imagine many of you can relate.
The start to the week here in the Bluegrass state has been hot and muggy. But that hasn't deterred me from being in ultimate Thanksgiving mode. The gathering of friends to a beautiful manor to enjoy Thanksgiving 3 months early, couldn't have been more perfect.

This little blog, for some reason or another, has topped the Google rankings for Thanksgiving Day Menu searches for over 3 years. Remarkable! That accomplishment (although not pursued), is definitely one, as a Turkey day fan, I take pride in. Feel free to follow my Thanksgiving Pinterest board....so many great ideas out there...where to start?

What special recipes or decor do you have your sights on creating this Thanksgiving?



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Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of School

These boys....so exhausting and yet so darn amazing. This summer was....long. Did it seem to drag on over in your corner of the world? Here at the Smith Homestead it sure did. By this morning, energy was high and everyone was ready to tackle another school year.



Ezra came home from his first day of first grade elated. Now as a first grader he can make his own food in the cafeteria. He was so proud to tell me he made his very own salad with tomatoes and Italian "sauce" as he called it. He said he was also the only kid at his table that tried the spicy burrito. Everyone else opted for turkey sandwiches. Good boy, Ezra.
You make mama proud.
Canaan has yet to come home from his first day of 4th grade. He is officially running cross country and has his first after school practice today. I couldn't help but feel a little pang of sentimentality and sadness as we went for his classroom visit last night. This year he has a locker, and his peers all look like they spent the summer in an abercrombie store watching Justin Bieber videos. There are braces on teeth, and girls carrying purses, and that ever present sign of children getting older...the "cool" factor. Oh my. I am not sure I'm ready.
Slow down life...slow down, please.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Foods of Asheville

Asheville is but a quick (and beautiful) 5 hour drive from our doorstep. Last week we scooted down there for a visit~ one last road trip before the school year begins.
The weather couldn't have been more perfect ~ breezy, cool mountain air by day and brisk, cool evenings. In other words, completely dreamy.
A big part of our Asheville experience always revolves to some degree around food. What travels don't? We go to bed each night thinking about what we'll have for breakfast and after breakfast start planning dinner. Typically we forgo lunch on such trips, opting for a substantial first and third meal and ending the day with dessert.
We have our usual hot spots in Asheville and although we did hit a couple of those, we found some really amazing new food spots that kept us coming back...more than once.



Chai Pani and French Broad Chocolate Lounge (thanks to recommendations from our sweet foodie neighbors) were big time hits. Chai Pani serves Indian Street Food that is oh-my-word delicious (and cheap to boot!) A late night, street side table dinner of curry paneer fries? You betcha. And washed down with a local King Coconut Porter and a Thai chocolate truffle just down the street? Double betcha.



Now off for some evening tennis to lose those 5 lbs I acquired in a three day period....(thank goodness for miles of strenuous walking in that hilly town...otherwise I'd be working off 15!)

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Peach Bourbon Vanilla Sorghum Jam


For weeks I have gazed longingly across the street at our neighbors tree. The tree has been there a long time, I suppose. Definitely 5 years~ as long as we have lived on this street. But this year something miraculous happened to that tree. Peaches. I really think it was a miracle because if anyone has fruit tree radar, its me. And never before has that tree beared fruit~ until this year. 

And this year, the peaches weighed down the tree in such abundance, it was gawk worthy~ not just for me but for the neighbors, the runners, the mailman, and the dozens of moms pushing strollers each day. A sight to behold!
Week after week, the peaches grew and last week, started falling. I watched from my big picture window, waiting for the renters of the house to come pick them. They didn't. I waited a few more days~ a storm came, broke one of the peach heavy limbs...still no gathering of the fruit. Utter torture to watch.

Finally, I got the gumption (i.e. sent Mike over with a note to put on the door) offering to gather peaches and deliver some jam, if they were interested. They were. We picked, and picked and picked and even to this very morning, the tree remains full (I'm telling you, miraculous tree!)
So, as promised, I will deliver jam to their doorstep this week. This jam~ made with the neighborhood peaches and a jar of Bourbon Vanilla Sorghum from a local company you can read about here.
Jam is really easy to make. I also made a few jars of Vanilla Peach Butter, which is even easier. If you aren't up for actually going through the process of canning, just store the jam in the fridge right from the get-go. I'm certain it won't last long...

Peach Bourbon Vanilla Sorghum Jam

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs. ripe fresh peaches peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • freshly-squeezed lemon juice from one lemon
  • 2T. vanilla
  • 1 (8.8oz) jar Bourbon Vanilla Sorghum (if not using, add 1 additional cup of sugar)
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Have the container or jar(s) you’ll be refrigerating your jam in clean, dry and handy.
  2. Prepare peaches.
  3. Place prepared peaches, sugar, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and sorghum into a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. If you like, you can mash your peaches with a potato masher at this point, to break up any large pieces. Lower heat slightly and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until it reaches the gel point (224° F. on a candy thermometer). Alternately, if you don’t have a thermometer, you can place a saucer into the freezer when you start preparing your jam. When you want to test if it has reached the gel point, remove from the freezer and place a small puddle of jam onto the cold saucer. With your spoon, push against the middle of the puddle of jam. If it “wrinkles” and leaves a path when you run your spoon through it, it’s ready. If it doesn’t (it’s still liquid, runs back together after running your spoon through it), cook a little longer and test again until it does.
  4. Spoon hot jam into prepared jar(s) or container(s). Allow to cool slightly, cover with lids then refrigerate immediately. Jam can also be frozen in freezer jam containers or hot water bath canned.


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Monday, August 06, 2012

Ohio State Fair 2012


Its no secret that I love the Ohio State Fair. And thankfully my family is up for indulging my nostalgic tendencies this time of year as we make the 3+ hour trek north to the fairgrounds. I have lived in many states over the years and been to many state fairs. Nothing...and I do exclaim, nothing...compares to Ohio's fairgrounds.
Well done, Ohio. Another great year~












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