Part Two

* I am also including a link to a separate page chronicling what my spiritual journey has been for the past 3 months. If you have an interest in reading that you can link to it here.

One of the biggest hurdles in getting things ready for a big national TV appearance was finding commercial kitchen space to make marshmallows in bulk and in their own space. After learning that we'd be on the show, we started exploring all of our options. There was a chance we could sub-lease some space from a cheese spread company but we would have to work around their production hours. Not the best choice. Our next option was renting a store front location with a commercial kitchen already available (since we don't have the funds to start from scratch.) It was an OK idea but in the end we just didn't want that kind of financial commitment. After mulling over so many factors, so many scenarios (even considering selling our house to rent a location), we came back to an idea we had explored over 6 months ago.

*Flashback: over 6 months ago*

A little over 6 months ago we were in the same boat. Looking for a commercial kitchen space but not out of need...rather out of curiosity. I browsed the listings on Craigslist and my eyes landed on a listing for a small country store on a road Mike and I were familiar with. We knew this store. It was charming...we were excited. We called and set up a time to come and look at the space. We confirmed the road name with the owner of the store and headed out. We pulled in and let the boys out to throw the football in the big field next to the sweet country store, nestled in amongst hundreds of acres of grass fed cattle farmland. An hour passed and we wondered if we had been ditched. The owner called wondering where we were at? We wondered where SHE was at? What we then realized was that we were at the wrong country store...oops. We went to look at hers and it just wasn't a good fit for us. We drove away disappointed and yet we couldn't stop thinking about that first country store we had driven to. So we did what any investigative person does, we Googled it. And after some digging around we figured out who the owner was. We called him and to our excitement the store was not being used anymore. He agreed to show it to us although he hadn't considered renting it at the time. The owner, who's family owns the cattle farm which has been in the family since the land grant days, showed us the store which was once the old post office. We fell in love. What was really amazing was this man, whom we had never met, had children that attend the same small private school our son does ~ which is pretty crazy since the school was a good 30 minute drive away (far for us small town folks ;)
We went home and dreamed up high and lofty dreams for the space. We met with the owner and his family and they dreamt along with us. It was going to be great! But the timing wasn't right. Mike didn't feel peace about embarking on a marshmallow enterprise/ new business idea I had at that time. It was heartbreaking for me. But I trusted his judgement and backed down.

*Flashback over...back to present day*

While sitting at our 12 year anniversary dinner, and still pondering commercial kitchen space, I asked Mike what he thought about inquiring about the old country store again. He gave the green light and we called. To our surprise, it was not only still available but the owners had been so enthused about the possibility of something great happening there that they had the entire place overhauled. The old pine floors from the post office were refinished, old beams in the rafters were installed, new paint, new plumbing and electrical, new windows and it went from being a rather drab little country store to an absolutely stunning space.
We now have a key to that stunning space. We just moved things into that stunning space today. That stunning space, which for now will be the home of The Marshmallows Company and all the craziness that will ensue after the show airs, will someday soon also become “The Homestead”.
If all goes well, by summertime The Homestead will be in full swing with coffee, baked good and simple wholesome lunches each day, bluegrass concerts on the lawn on occasional evenings and many great classes on all things homesteading like raising hens, cheese making, quilting, banjo and mandolin, basket making and all things of that sort.
This whole Suze Orman Show opportunity has really, as I said before, just fallen in our lap. Finding the perfect little spot for The Marshmallows Company has too, fallen in our lap. The time that Mike has had in these past 2 months to work on all of this wasn't by chance either. I wake up each morning in awe of the path that has opened up for us and the peace that we feel following it. But to be very honest, its still as scary as heck! This is by far the biggest leap of faith we have taken yet as a family. The lines between excitement, joy, worry, anxiety and uncertainty are so blurred sometimes and come and go depending on the day or time.
There is the fear of failure. It is such a leap to really go for a life dream and not know if it will succeed or fail. But we have confidence that we are moving in the direction God would have us move...He has been paving the way for years~ we can see that clearly.
So there it a nutshell (yes, the extended version would take a few hours and a pot of coffee or a bottle of wine depending on the time of day.) Even though we are moving forward with The Marshmallows Company with Canaan and The Homestead we don't come from wealthy families nor have a stockpile of savings (unfortunately). We're hopeful we can make a go of it without Mike going back to a “normal” job but we aren't confident that he won't have to. He's still looking and interviewing and if the right job presented itself we'd have to figure that out when the time came.

Please help us spread the word around the web about Canaan's Suze Orman appearance! I'll be putting a nifty little poster of sorts on here in a couple of days that you can grab and post on your blog or facebook page if you feel so inclined.
Thanks everyone for the encouragement, the emails, the calls and the comments. I love having you all to share this journey with.

Part One

The past 2 months have been a complete roller coaster. The highs and lows have been extreme at times and truthfully, our life as we have known it will forever be changed…for the good…I expect.
A couple of weeks before we found out about Mike’s layoff an amazingly unexpected thing happened. One afternoon I was looking online for some financial advice for Canaan. He was making some nice money selling marshmallows during the holiday season and Mike and I were wondering how we should be handling that for him. Savings? Money market? Disney stock? We had no clue.
Occasionally we watch, with the boys, The Suze Orman Show on CNBC. I headed to her website for some answers and found none. But what I did find was one of those “ask Suze” forms which I quickly filled out with a simple background story of Canaan’s company and my financial question. Less than an hour later, while eating lunch with Mike my phone rang and on the other end was a producer from the show calling about my submitted question. The funny thing was that as I was clicking the “submit” button I thought “I bet no one ever reads these things…they just end up somewhere in cyberspace.” Well sure enough, it was read and followed up with a phone call from Suzanne, Suze’s amazing producer.
At first it was simply a phone call to see if I would call in to the show and ask my question on air. I agreed, reluctantly (I am pretty shy about things like that) yet I was excited to get to talk to Suze! A couple of hours later I had a voice mail from Suzanne asking me to call the studio. After sharing the story of Canaan and his company with the executive producer, they wanted to do an entire segment about this young entrepreneur. It was crazy.astonishing.amazing. I mean, this is Suze Orman! Oprah’s financial guru~ a CNBC star~ Today’s Show money expert!
The next few weeks were a total blur. The news of Mike’s layoff, the holidays and this crazy opportunity that landed in our lap. The show decided to do a segment loosely titled “a day in the life of the marshmallow king” and wanted lots of footage of Canaan as the CEO running his company. We sent it off ~ they loved it. The segment which was slotted to air in January was then pushed to the highly anticipated 10th anniversary special airing in March.
Fast forward to last week when Canaan and I were picked up and taken to a studio in Louisville to do a satellite taping with Suze. Afterwards he spent the day saying “I just talked to a REAL FINANCIAL ADVISOR!!” This of course cracked me up and made me love him all the more. When I asked him if he’d tell his classmates (many who were off on nice holiday trips for the winter break) about his fancy car ride and TV appearance he said “no, I don’t want to brag and make them feel jealous.” I love that boy.
As much as I want to share the story of this journey we have been on as a family for the past 3 months, it is almost too overwhelming to do it any justice.
The realization that this opportunity The Marshmallows Company has been given may possibly catapult his business to a new level has caused us to have to get all our ducks in a row, quickly, before the show airs. In a way, Mike’s job loss has been a blessing because he has had ample time to get everything in order. Finding commercial kitchen space, getting the proper labeling for the marshmallows, local and state inspections on the packaging process, becoming an LLC… its been really time consuming.
The truly amazing thing is that although we have had no finances coming in for the past 2 months, we have seen no significant hit to our bank account. Sure, it is certainly dwindling with bills, groceries and such but we have seen God’s blessing on our finances throughout all of this.
So this is part one. I’ll share more in part 2 about our plans for the future. They’re big…and a bit scary…but really exciting.
But for now, go set your DVR’s to record The Suze Orman Show next Saturday night, March 5 at 9pm. If you don’t have cable, no worries. You can download a pod cast or watch it online.
Next week I will shamelessly be using this brilliant thing called social media to get the word out. Please help me, if you want. Canaan’s new website will be finished next week (its super cute). And you can “like” The Marshmallows Company on Facebook too.

To Wet Your Appetite...

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I just love the color of Ezra's shoe laces right now. And dangling on the stools at Jeni's Ice Cream just made me smile.

The big announcement is coming soon...very soon. I could talk about it already, I suppose, but there are so many layers to the story and I really want to do the big "ta da!" give me a few more days.
If you already have the scoop, keep it hush hush. Here are a couple of photos to get your suspense levels rising...
And if you want...put your best guess as to the big news in the comments. Just don't give it away if you already know, sweet friends!

Otto Is One

Our sweet Othniel Rockland turns one today. A whole year has passed in the blink of an eye and here we are~ with the most content, chubby, blue eyed sweet child. He's amazing.
For his birthday we'll light a little candle in a jar of baby food. He still favors nursing and will only eat foods with absolutely NO texture. I cannot get homemade food smooth enough for his picky palate and foods like banana or oatmeal...never.

The big event for the day will be bathtime. We've promised him an extra long bath today (his favorite activity). Lots of kisses and hugs and plenty of attention from his brothers will round out a perfect day with our sweet Otto.

A Birthday Dinner

I have so many big things to time. So much is happening over here at the Smith homestead that is keeping me away from the blog world and more fully engaged in pursuing life dreams. Not a bad thing at all.
I'll keep the big things at bay for a while longer and instead share a couple of recipes and a recent discovery.

Canaan turned 8 years old last week and he requested the Luau Salad (ala Cheesecake Factory) and a Malted Milk Ball Cake.
The recipes can be found here and here

My recent discovery was that of my grandmother's pocket watch necklace. I inherited a few pieces of her jewelry when she passed away over 20 years ago and most pieces I have kept tucked away. I was going through some things this week and found those precious pieces she left for me. One of them being this fantastic long necklace with an antique watch on it. I have been wearing it around everywhere lately and just love, love, love it.

A Giveaway

Sweet Regina over at Cardigans and Kids asked me to be a guest blogger today. She is offering a giveaway too! Head over and leave a comment.

Lazy Man's Handmade Valentines

Its Valentine week and handmade cards are always so fun to make. This year though we are running short on crafty time and thus had to forgo the usual construction paper, glue, scissors and stamps.
Instead Canaan and Ezra chose their favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic strip and with a little scanning and photoshop magic we made these fun Valentine cards. Easy peasy and still reflective of the boys' personalities.

Some Really Exciting News Coming Soon...

Snowy, blustery days have been tempered with occasional sunny mid-40's days that allow us to enjoy a family walk.

Remedial Eating shared a recipe for this amazing, super easy curry dish. I love that it doesn't actually use curry powder (which I kind of detest). I whipped it up for lunch in mere minutes, topped it with some thick greek yogurt and had leftovers on hand throughout the week to munch on.

Come-Hither Cauliflower, Potatoes and Green Peas (Gobhi Matar Rasedar)
adapted from Juli Sahni, Classic Indian Cooking

1 head cauliflower
2 medium waxy potatoes (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup ghee or light vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper
1 cup tinned chopped tomatoes + juices
4 teaspoons Kosher salt
2-3 cups boiling water
10-12 ounces frozen baby peas (1 bag)
3 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro

Prepare your veg and spices: Wash cauliflower, trim off leaves and tough base, then slice florets and inner core into rough 1 1/2" florets. Peel potatoes, and cut into 3/4" chunks. Measure out all spices (cumin seed into pile, the remainder into another), and set aside, near the stove.

Heat ghee or oil in a deep, heavy, lidded skillet over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add cumin seeds, and fry a quick 20-seconds, until they go brown and nutty-smelling. Add remaing spice pile (cumin powder, coriander, turmeric and red pepper), give a quick stir, then immediately add cauliflower and potatoes. Stir a few minutes, to coat veg with the spiced oil, and to allow them to sear a bit, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, and continue to fry about 3 minutes, until tomatoes begin to thicken a bit, and oil and sauce begin to separate. Add salt and 2 cups boiling water for a sauced dish (3 cups for a soupy one), then clamp a lid on. Reduce heat and immerse vegetables, covered, about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. Remove led, and tip in the peas, directly from the freezer. Stir, bring back to a simmer (1-2 minutes), and turn off heat. Taste for salt and heat, adjust as desired, and scatter chopped, fresh cilantro over all to serve.

I have some really exciting news to share sometime soon. I don't want to jinx it so I won't let the cat out of the bag too soon, but it has something to do with The Marshmallows the national spotlight!

The Lesson Britney Spears Taught My Son

Each night at the Smith homestead is dance night. After dinner and post dinner clean up we pull out the Britney Spears CD circa 2000 (a black market find during our trip to Mongolia many years ago) and dance wildly to songs like “oops I did it again“.
Beyond just pure fun, there is a method to this silly madness. Canaan, who is nearly 8 has always been ‘an old soul’. He looks forward to watching Lawrence Welk on PBS each Saturday night, proclaims that Frank Sinatra is by far the best singer and thinks elevator music is the best jazz around.
With this sweet sentimental, old soul kind of ways Canaan also can tend to be a bit uptight. He is an absolute rule follower, morally conscious kid. We have never worried about him lying to us or being sneaky because if he ever would do such things he would tell on himself before we ever had a chance to question him. Sometimes I have to almost pinch myself at how great he is (all my boys are.) Over the years we have worked hard to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in him. Children, from what I have found, are generally pretty selfish, whiny and ungrateful…its just the nature of the beast. It takes work to cultivate in them a genuine appreciative and thankful heart, which is a work in progress~ as with all of us. He always takes time to thank me for making dinner (even if it isn’t his favorite meal). He will often come up and give me a hug or a kiss and say “thank you for being such a great mommy.” I am so blessed.
In recent months we have taken small steps to teach Canaan some life lessons in a new area he has begun struggling with. That area of self consciousness. He is a people pleaser and is devastated when he displeases anyone. He is also very fearful of looking dumb, doing something embarrassing or saying something wrong. He takes life very seriously, which for goof balls like Mike and I is a foreign concept.
It is vital to grow and nurture our children as individuals. Ezra, our middle son, has no problem bustin’ a move on the dance floor or wearing the funkiest outfit he can find. Ezra’s guidance these days are more in the area of choosing his attitude (he can tend to be a bit mopey). All of this instruction is, of course, given in small amounts with large doses of encouragement and praise for the areas they are excelling in and the great choices they do make.
So how does Britney tie into all of this, you may ask? Well in an attempt to loosen our sweet son up a bit we began a nightly dance party. The first night was disastrous. He was on the verge of tears as we encouraged him to throw caution to the wind and dance. He kept saying things like “I’m going to look dumb” and “I can’t do this”. It was disheartening as a parent to see him struggle with something as simple as dancing around the room with his family. After 3 songs we called it a night with the announcement that there would indeed be dance night the next night. The following night, after dinner, I casually walked over to the CD player and put the old faithful Britney Spears CD in. I cranked it up and began doing some funky…I mean really cool dance moves. To my surprise Canaan quickly joined me. It was evident he was still apprehensive about the idea of dancing freely, but he joined in with a big smile. By the end he excitedly asked if we’d be having a dance party again the next night.
It is such a random and albeit silly way of drawing him out of his serious, self conscious shell but you know what? Its working. Since we started our family dance parties we can tell there is a big shift in his outlook on the day. He laughs more (he used to say he liked things more serious than silly), he tells more corny jokes, he is just overall much more relaxed and comfortable in his own skin. Don’t worry, we have no plans of taking the ‘old soul’ out of Canaan…just mixing a bit of his 80 year old ways with the spunk of youth.
And that’s what Britney Spears taught my kid.

**Mike is oh-so concerned that people all around the world will think we are endorsing Britney Spears. We wants me to make it clear that he likes Snow Patrol, Wilco, Coldplay and Van Morrison. Britney is only around for my jogs on the treadmill. Just wanted to clear that up for my dear husbands music reputation.