A Coldplay XY Kind Of Craft Day - DIY Notepad Covers

I had a crafting first yesterday. The first time I have ever used my own tutorial from a magazine. Weird. Following my own instructions in print. Crazy.
Although I made this project a dozen times while writing the tutorial, it's been months ago now and in the span of a few months I don't retain much. Yesterday, while Otto napped, I got the crafting itch. Do you get that? I had so many other things to do (laundry, deadlines, cleaning...) but some creativity was bursting to come out.
Recently I met an amazing woman and wanted to make her a little something as a thank you gift for her sweet presence in my life. I immediately thought of this project, DIY fabric covered notepad. It can be found in a back issue of International Quilt Festival magazine (Winter 2010-11)

The beauty of these fabric covered notepads is that they are not only super cute but very utilitarian. The best part? One can be made in about an hour.

Click below for the full tutorial (with pictures). Have fun!

But before you click...tell me what music gets your creative juices flowing these days? 
Please share in the comments section. I'm always on the hunt for great music!
For me, its Coldplay's X&Y. I can't get enough of it in my studio space right now.

Veggie Gyros on Homemade Pita with Feta

As promised, I'm sharing tips for shedding those last few baby pounds. This week...its all about green tea. As I write this I am having my morning cup. Throughout the day I will have several. Green tea has tons of health benefits, including some pretty incredible weight claims. Look it up. I am seeing some really amazing results from cutting out the coffee and switching to green tea. Bottoms up!

Now onto this beauty...

I am all about a good gyro. How about you? But unless I am at the state fair or a Mediterranean restaurant (which my town has only a small handful), I never eat them. These little gems make an appearance from time to time and they hit the spot when a gyro craving comes on.

Read on for the full pita making tutorial and recipe...

Birthdays & Blissdom

Yesterday, sweet litte Otto turned 2 (this pic was taken fresh out of bed on the morning of his big day...favorite blanket and stuffed animals by his side- as always). And as sweet as this guy is...he is also the most rambunctious and wild of the three. Phew. Three boys with the last being the loudest and craziest?? I did not expect that. Yet it keeps us constantly entertained (pulling out our hair) and we know full well this time of 2 year old shenanigans will end far too quickly.

In other news...I head to Nashville today to attend Blissdom. Any of you fellow bloggers headed that way? I've been saving my pennies for the trip for a while now and am so excited to meet some new people, take some amazing classes and have some girl time with Sarah and Ami.

I'll be back on Monday with lots of great stuff to share next week. Some crafty goodies...recipes....all good stuff. Can't wait! See you then~

A "Green" Wedding

I am so excited to have the chance to help plan the most amazing Kentucky wedding this fall. Its a very eco-friendly, local, "green" wedding...and I am giddy with delight that I have the opportunity to be a part in helping them pull together their day.
Head over to Vrai...her fabulous photo blog to see some recent pics she snapped at this amazing home nearby.

Bye Bye Baby Weight Hello Avocado and Goat Cheese

Baby weight....its a weighty issue among us mama's sometimes. For you guy readers of mine...I'm sure you've heard the discussion before.
Sweet Otto is our last. And after 9 years of baby carrying, baby having and baby nursing it was finally time to shed the last of the pounds and get back to "normal" once again. Of course, nothing will ever be high-school-body normal again and I'm ok with that (kind of).
But nonetheless, around Christmas I knew it was time to kick things into high gear and get the ball rolling on losing the rest of those pesky pounds. My dear husband saw no need in this (he's sweet like that) but for my own sake, it needed to be done.
I have always maintained a healthy lifestyle. Workouts, eating well, watching the sweets intake, denying myself too many rich foods, etc... but when one is trying to kick things into high gear ~ more drastic measures must be taken.
I thought over the next few Mondays I would share a few things that have worked for me. Since Christmas, I did indeed lose those last few pesky pounds (which wasn't easy now that I have said hello to my 30's) and I dropped a couple of pants sizes...which was a fete in and of itself since I have been the same pant size for a decade even if I did fluctuate in weight.

(Honestly, it kind of feels weird blogging about this. I'm typically very private about these sorts of things. But I know it may help encourage some of you that have too been struggling at getting back to your optimum size so I wanted to open the dialog.)

The word of the week is avocados. These little gems are not only super yummy but are full of yummy goodness. I am no nutritionist and I won't try to convince you to go buy a truckload of them at Sam's. But for me they really have been a great way to get some protein and good fat in my diet over the past 3 months.
In high school I went through a period of non-eating. I wouldn't say I was anorexic...I don't like to label it that way, but I did quit eating for quite a period of time and that wasn't good. Thankfully I have been able to use that experience to help other girls who struggle with those same feelings of negative self-worth. It was a learning experience.
With that said, I learned my lesson back then that the way to lose weight is not to cut calories and fat out of your diet. Yes, there should be some correction in the daily diet intake, but to eliminate fats all together...that is a no-no. Avocados have lots of good things going for them and for me, half of an avocado with a sprinkling of goat cheese on a light rye Wasa Cracker is the best mid-afternoon energy boosting snack imaginable.
Occasionally it will also make an appearance at lunch  (if you read my "about" section, you'll see that I have a fondness for avocados) with a bowl of soup.

I do exercise 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week (after the boys are in bed), doing this program and I keep things like flour and sugar to a minimum throughout the week. There are definitely some other tricks up my sleeve that I'll share in coming Mondays.

I'd love to hear what you think...what works for you...what doesn't. Its definitely a topic we can all learn from each other on!

Sweet Notes~

There is a season in my life as a mom that is one of the most precious to me. I have experienced it once already, am in the midst of it once again, and will have this precious time once more in a few years.
The season I am referring to is this one~

It happens around age 5 (at least in my experience) and it is this small window of time when our little ones finally learn how to write real words...and the most favorite of those words are "love" and "mom". Makes my heart swoon. My sweet Ezra is in this stage now and not a day goes by that I don't come across one, two, ten or twenty little notes that say those sweet words.
I save them all, of course. And with each one I am handed, I treat it as if it were the first.
Each day he is learning more and building more words into his writing. Otto now has a love note taped above his bed~

And my computer screen is surrounded by them. A welcomed sight when I am knee deep in revising an article for the fifteenth time.

Within the past week I have received more content in my love letters, which make me both smile and giggle.
Its a great season of life...one that will be gone much too quickly~

Love is in the Air ~ Valentines Partner Projects

This lovely customizable print is from HereandThere Shop on Etsy.

Whether your love is across the room, across town or across the pond ~ here's wishing you the happiest of Valentines Days ever.

And if that loved one happens to be across the room, go grab them and choose one of these fun Valentine projects to do together tonight:
Make a Batch of Cordial
Heart Shaped Themed Dinner 

A Beer Tasting Party - DIY Trophy

We love beer. Unfortunately (fortunately), our distinguished palate for beer is at a much higher level than our budget allows most weeks.
Along with loving a great bottle of craft beer, Mike is also a gold metal award winning brewer. Yep...he does it all. Home brewer, fence builder, Thai food maker, woodworker, bathroom cleaner, diaper changer, mall shopper and Downton Abbey watcher (I got the whole package with this guy.)
But back to the beer...

We host our fair share of gatherings here at The Smith Homestead. I love a good mingle at the house. Anytime of the day or night, in any season, there is always reason to gather friends together.
At our most recent party, the theme centered around great beer and food. In celebration of Mike's birthday I planned our first Blind Beer Tasting. Each person/couple brought their ultimate favorite beer to enter into the tasting along with a $5 entry fee. Once the entries arrived, they were brown bagged and numbered in the back bedroom and then brought out to party central (i.e. the living room/kitchen/dining room) where they were put out for tasting.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes w/ Chocolate Ganache...9 year old style

Our first born is 9 today. Other years I felt somewhat sad about my little baby growing up...but this year I don't feel that as much. I feel so full of joy and pride in seeing who he is becoming  as a young man that there isn't much room for much else today.
He is still our sweet boy that tries his hardest to please us (and everyone else). When we can't find him nowadays, he is usually tucked away in his room reading books like Robinson Crusoe or playing his first musical instrument, the recorder he received this year in 3rd grade music class. (I think if I hear "in the jungle" on the recorder one more time this week...it might be the end of me).
He still owns his successful marshmallow company and was featured on the Suze Orman show twice. Needless to say, this kid loves to be in the kitchen. He talks about being a paleontologist, a scientist and an archeologist someday but lately his thoughts have turned to becoming a chef.
Last Saturday he was wondering around aimlessly through the house (one of my pet peeves...aimless meandering mingled with words like "I'm bored"). I told him to find an afternoon project ~ which, no surprise, ended up being in the kitchen.

Click below for the recipe and more photos...

Cast Iron Buttermilk Strawberry Cake

I am a cake fanatic. Not those fancy fondant cakes. Decorated cakes seriously do nothing for me. Its all about the taste. I just love a big ol' slice of great cake.
Layer cakes are my favorite but when I am under a time crunch (i.e. kids are coming home from school in 20 minutes and I am wanting to greet them with the smells of something sweet from the kitchen), a basic buttermilk cake is just about the most amazing thing ever.
I see alot of these recipes floating around. I first stumbled across one of these recipes in this fabulous cookbook and since then I have seen dozens of them. Mine is pretty similar to all the rest except for a few tweaks here and there. Varying fruit depending on what's on sale at the store that week and I always bake mine in a deep cast iron skillet.
We lucked out on ours 10 years ago in someones trash pile. Yes...a huge stack of cast iron that someone threw away. Craziness. Anyhow, this deep cast iron is absolutely the workhorse of my kitchen. Everything from roasts to crumbles turn out absolutely amazing.
And don't ask me about seasoning it. I have no clue. I don't use soap on it but beyond that I don't do anything special.
Speaking of special....lets get onto this recipe...

Hand Stitched Love Note

Telling someone you love them...you miss them...or you long to be with them is something really meaningful. And stitching those words for that special someone to tuck into their pillowcase is the perfect way to make sure they know it everyday.

Valentines Day is just around the corner but this project is obviously something that can be done anytime of year, for any occasion. And it need not be only for lovers. I think stitching a special note to a child would be really amazing as well.

This tutorial is not how to embroider. If you don't know how to do basic embroidery, this website gives a great basic lesson.

Click below for the full tutorial~