Building Our Forever Home

After almost 6 months in Raleigh, us Smiths are smitten with North Carolina. We’ve fallen in love with the mild weather that still boasts a distinct change of seasons. We can’t get enough of all the parks, lakes, and biking trails that the area offers. We are addicted to trying new restaurants and exploring downtown Raleigh. It’s a perfect mix of big city, Southern charm, with a little bit of Crunchy Granola thrown in. Our kids are always active and learning as there is so much to experience- Farmer’s Markets, Kids Museum, Science Museum, libraries, parks, and activities with the “Mom’s Group” we’ve joined. We’re also loving being a little closer to family and having easy access to the beach and mountains. To sum it up, we’ve decided to stay put here in North Carolina.

We decided to build a home in a neighborhood that we absolutely LOVE that is about 5 minutes from our current rental. We’re hoping to be in the new house early next year. Brady is loving watching his new house go up and keeps asking to get his tools to help. He’s especially excited because of the golf course that is visible from our front porch! This past weekend, the framing was completed and we were able to walk into our new house for the first time. As Chris and Nolan crossed the threshold, Nolan sweetly said, “Home.” How completely perfect.

We do daily drive-by’s of our new home and have become it’s official stalker. I take pictures of it every time we pass by to document the progress, so we can always look back and show our boys how their childhood home came to be.

Here’s the journey so far…


Empty lot on the corner…ready for the Smiths!



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Here’s how the house currently looks!



Checking out Brady’s new room!


Let’s get my tools and get to work!

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We’re so grateful for this opportunity to build our forever home and can’t wait to start this new chapter of our lives!

Sweet Treats- Kids Cook Monday

So, it’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth. My favorite food is birthday cake. I get that that does not bode well for my health and waistline, but I come by it honestly. My whole family is full of dessert loving people. Nolan has been a sweets lover from the beginning, but Brady has always been my healthy eater. He’s always preferred a fruit smoothie to desserts.  So, in an effort to appease mine and Nolan’s sweet tooth, but not forgo Brady’s healthy ways, we tried a few new dessert recipes this weekend.

The first was inspired by our love of Rice Krispie treats. Traditional Rice Krispie Treats are full of rice cereal, butter, and marshmallows. Delicious, but no nutritional value. I decided to use that same rice cereal but combine it with bananas and some all natural peanut butter. We made them into bite size balls and stuck them in the freezer. The result was a sweet, gooey, moist, ball of peanut butter goodness. It took about 5 minutes to come together and a half hour in the freezer to set.

Choco-Peanut-Banana-Rice Balls


3 Cups Rice Cereal
3/4 Cup Peanut Butter
A squirt of honey
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1 Ripe Banana



All we did was throw the peanut butter, banana, and honey in a large pot and heat until melted. Once it was liquid-y we added the cocoa powder.


We added the rice cereal and stirred it into the peanut butter mixture. We took it off the heat and let it cool for about a minute or two.


Then we used our hands to roll the rice mixture into bite sized balls.


We stuck the plate full of balls into the freezer for about a half hour to let them set. Then they were ready to eat!


We kept these guys in the freezer so they were nice and cold when we wanted one. They never got super hard so they were always ready to eat. This batch lasted us less than a day.










Now on to dessert #2 of the weekend…

Since the weather has cooled off so much lately, I’ve really been in the mood to make something pumpkin flavored. I LOVE my Grandma Dot’s pumpkin bread recipe, but I’m saving that one for when I’m really ready to indulge. Today we tried a Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffin recipe I found on Pinterest that is low in added sugar and gets it’s sweetness from bananas and some protein from Greek Yogurt. I’m posting the link to the recipe, but note that we added about a 1/2 teaspoon salt (because I really think it enhances the flavor of baked goods) and half a teaspoon of ground cloves (it’s in my Grandma’s recipe and SO tasty with pumpkin.) These are so great for a breakfast on the go or a sweet treat in the evening. The kids loved this one and have a blast any time they get to help bake! 

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Here’s the recipe…


‘Tis the season of Pumpkin!

Fiesta Mac-N-Cheese {Kids Cook Monday}

What’s better than mac-n-cheese? I pretty much love all kinds. Fancy versions with truffle butter, super cheesy ones at BBQ restaurants, and even the kind you make from a blue box. While I have no shame in stocking up on Annie’s Mac-N-Cheese when they go on sale at Harris Teeter for 10/$10, every once in a while it’s nice to make a big home made batch that you can eat leftovers of for days. This mac-n-cheese recipe is substantial enough to have as a main dish, and has a fun Mexican flair. Who doesn’t love flair in their mac-n-cheese?!




Fiesta Mac-N-Cheese



I actually used 2 of those bags of cheese (just forgot it for the picture!)

1 lb. Elbow Macaroni
1/2 stick of butter
1/3 cup of flour
2 1/2 cup whole milk
4 cups of shredded cheese
1 can tomatoes with green chilies
1 can black beans
1/2 bag of frozen corn (or 1 can)
1/2 bag of spinach leaves
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder, Cumin, and Garlic Powder
Optional Toppings; Green Onion, Crushed Taco Chips, Sour cream

Here’s how this one went down…


Begin by boiling the macaroni in a big pot. Cook until just tender. Don’t overcook it because it will cook a little more in the oven.


Drain canned tomatoes. Rinse and drain can of beans.


Begin to make cheese sauce by melting your butter in a big (oven safe) pot.


Whisk flour into melted butter and cook on low for about a minute.


Slowly stir milk into the flour/butter mixture. Cook on low and stir until smooth.


Stir in your Cumin, Chili Powder and Garlic Powder along with a little Salt & Pepper.


Stir in 3 Cups of your cheese into the sauce. (You save your fourth cup of cheese to top it with before it goes in the oven.)



Delicious Cheese Sauce!


Now you add in the cooked macaroni, can of tomatoes, can of beans, corn, and half a bag of spinach.

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Top everything with the remaining cup of cheese and put into a 350* oven and bake until bubbly and hot (about 15-20 minutes.)


Patiently stare at it in the oven…


Take a quick selfie!


Put your party hat on. It’s FIESTA Mac-n-Cheese afterall!


The finished product! This recipe makes a boat load. I put a couple containers in the freezer to have for quick, easy meals when Chris is out of town.


I’m loving that I have tons of leftovers of this meal. I also love that you could really throw in whatever veggies you have on hand and it would still be delicious!


A kid friendly meal that is full of protein, fiber, and cheesy goodness.


End of Summer Corn Chowder- Kids Cook Monday


Here in North Carolina we’ve had a little Fall tease. Highs in the 70’s, windows open, and it. is. awesome. Brady and I made the most amazing corn chowder and it was the perfect cool September evening meal. This chowder uses up lots of fresh corn which is still super cheap at the grocery store and readily available at the Farmer’s Market, but is rich and filling and warms ya right up! This meal was just the right balance of Summer meets Fall.


I mean, seriously.

This is my favorite kind of meal to make. Lots of chopping (for some reason I love to chop!), easy jobs for the kiddo’s to get involved in (lots of shucking!), and it all cooks in one big pot.


I use this thing every chance I get! Best birthday present (that I bought myself) ever. I named her Ina. #dork

End of Summer Corn Chowder



5 Ears of Corn
6 Red Potatoes
2 cloves of Garlic
1 onion
1 carrot
3 stalks of celery
1 box of Vegetable Broth
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper
About 1//2 teaspoon Cumin

Chopped Green Onion
Cheddar Cheese


Chop the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.


Sautee the veggies in olive oil until just tender. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin.


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Get your helpers to shuck the ears of corn and cut it off the cob.











Wash and chop the potatoes into bite size-ish pieces. No need to peel.


Add entire box of broth to the onion mixture, bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender (about 15 minutes.) Add corn and cook another 5 minutes.


Reduce heat. Once potatoes and corn are tender, use an immersion blender to smooth the soup out a bit. (Fun tool for kids to use!) We did it just a little bit because I liked some pieces to be a bit chunky. You could also transfer it to a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.


Love this part- stir in the cream. Yum!


Give everything a couple minutes to simmer on low and then you’re good to go!


Top the soup with cheese and green onions and serve with something warm and bread-ish.


Brady enjoying the “fruits of his labor.”


Good bye Summer, hello Fall, in a bowl!


Veggie Egg Muffins- Kids Cook Monday

Every once in a while, we get Chris home on a Monday morning with us while he’s working from the house. We take those opportunities to do our “Kids Cook Monday” meals in the mornings and have a big breakfast as a family sitting at the table. Of course, I’m always a fan of “Breakfast for Dinner”, but this time around we did “Breakfast for Breakfast.” What a concept!


I recently found these new biscuits that were marketed as “Junior” size. Chris jokes that I’m the exact target that marketing teams salivate over, because I will literally buy anything that looks new or shiny. These biscuits looked new and shiny so I went for them. They are just a cuter little version of the normal Grands biscuits- and they were perfect for stuffing into a muffin pan and making the perfect 3 bite, portable breakfast.


Veggie Breakfast Muffins

6-8 eggs
About 1/4 cup milk
A dash of Salt and Pepper
1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 can of biscuits (I used Junior Size)
A couple handfuls of chopped veggies (whatever kind you like!)


Here’s how these little cheesy, eggy bites came together…


Grease a muffin pan with a non-stick spray. Pull apart your biscuits into two halves. (One half a biscuit goes into each muffin)


Press each half biscuit into the muffin tin. (You’ll have leftover biscuits to make another tray or just bake them up on their own.)


Whisk your eggs, milk, salt and pepper and then pour the egg mixture onto the biscuits. Your biscuits might float a little in the eggs, but that’s OK!


Get your favorite veggies prepped and ready.


Throw your veggies onto your egg mixture.


Top with cheese. Yummm….


Bake in the oven at 350* for about 13-18 minutes (until the eggs have set and aren’t wiggly.)


Nolan loves being in the kitchen. This was him watching the biscuits saying “hot, hot, hot!”


Fresh out of the oven!




Everything you need- protein, veggies, all mixed up with a cheesy squishy biscuit!

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Our meal times are not fancy. In fact they’re usually quite loud and chaotic, but anytime we’re together in the kitchen and eating as a family, it’s all good!


Brady’s First Day of Pre-School

Today was Brady’s first day of 3 year old Pre-School. This year he will go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9:15-1:15. He was so excited about playing with new friends and seeing his teacher, “Miss Cwad-yah” (Miss Claudia.) He specifically requested a special lunch for his lunch box…a bologna sandwich, grapes, and a muffin (a cupcake.) He couldn’t wait to wear his new Gator backpack and his “Vroom Vroom” shirt. I love that he was so brave and ready to take on a new school year!

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Breakfast with Nolan on the 1st day of school


A little first day gift for “Miss Cwad-yah.”



His first lunch box!!

I couldn’t help but think how cool it was that over 11 years ago Chris and I met at UF and now, here we are with a 3 year old going to school with his Gator backpack and an Orange and Blue cupcake in his lunchbox!!!


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Nolan fit right in…and couldn’t quite understand why he couldn’t stay and play!


Had to sneak one picture after we walked away!

Yay for our big boy!