Kitchen Spruce Up!

While we are loving our new house here in Florida (and it really is a great house!) it’s no secret that I reeeeeally loved the one we built in Raleigh. We picked out every little detail and put so much work into it, especially the kitchen. It was my favorite kitchen ever. Unfortunately, the kitchen in our new home was the one area that did not make me happy when we initially saw the house. We knew when we purchased the home that we’d be putting in a little T.L.C. (money) to make it what we wanted.

Recently, we replaced the older black appliances that came with the house, put up some fun beadboard, replaced the under cabinet lights, got some new furniture, and had a contractor help us re-do our backsplash. The result is so much more “us” and overall lighter and brighter!

Here’s some before pics…


Not terrible. Just a little dark and sad. And that backsplash though…


Not only was this tile a dreary geometrical nightmare to look at, it was so stuck on it would have survived a nuclear bomb. It took our contractor so long to rip it all down and all the walls came down with it!

Now on to the after pictures!



Nothing a little stainless steel and white subways can’t fix!


This kitchen is definitely more our style now and is a place I’m excited to cook in. I’m still looking to replace our drawer pulls with something more of a cup style since these are a little too modern for my taste, but we’re on our way to making this my favorite house yet!


Winter Weather Wackiness!

Ah, Winter time. That lovely time of year where noses never stop running, feet never seem warm enough, and cabin fever sets in. Admittedly, this North Carolina winter has paled in comparison to what went down last winter in Pennsylvania, but when you’re a mom of two small kids, cold is cold. No outside playtime and always having to bundle up to go anywhere is a drag. Then when you add snow or ice that keeps you housebound, well, that’s a lot of togetherness!

So, I’m sharing what we do to keep sane in Winter months.

First of all, without a doubt, there is more T.V. watching and iPad time. I just don’t know how to completely avoid that.


At least it’s educational!


We have literally played with every.single.toy. in our house. We build and take apart various train tracks all day long. We paint pictures. We play with Play-doh. We read and re-read our favorite books. We do puzzles. We make buildings with Legos and blocks. We have races around the house. We jump on our trampoline. Aaand, that gets us to right around lunch time. Whew!



Working on those fine motor skills!


Another life saver during winter months is a new toy added in the mix. Anything new that can be a distraction, is always a win! Except for this toy. It’s called a Wubble. It was described by Brady as, “The BEST toy ever!” And, it popped the day after we got it. We didn’t even have time for the novelty to wear off! Ugh…


The real winter fun begins when we can get out and play in some cold weather. Last week we had this weird ice/snow storm that froze everything, made roads impossible to drive on, and canceled school all week. Thankfully we were stocked with lots of food and Chris was home with us as his travel plans were canceled for the week because of the weather. We couldn’t go anywhere, so we just used that time to bundle up and play on the ice.




Nolan kept saying “Pretty Snow. Wow.” but he only kinda tolerated being outside in the cold. He refused to wear gloves and was much more interested in coming inside the warm house to eat breakfast.

While North Carolina does have it’s share of warmer winter days where temperatures reach into the 50’s, for the most part it’s much chillier this time of year and you are forced to find inside activities to fill the day. Some of our go-to places to venture to are the mall play area (if I’m up for dousing the kids with hand sanitizer afterwards), the train table in the children’s section of Barnes-n-Noble, a friend’s house for a playdate, the Chick-fil-a play area (so mommy can get an iced tea and a moment of sanity), story time at the library, Marbles Kids Museum (definitely getting our money’s worth out of those annual passes!) and the North Carolina Science Museum.


At the “World’s Largest Dinosaurs” exhibit at the Science Museum.


Dino dig at the Science Museum. Brady was in heaven.

When all else fails and we just can’t think of anything else to do, we make music, play music, and dance.

Another winter pastime of ours is finding a house project/re-decorating. It must be all that time spent sitting around the house that makes me start to critique every piece of furniture, paint color or throw pillow. Our house is new, so theoretically I shouldn’t have that much I’d want to change, but my dining room table has been on my mind for sometime now. I’ve always loved the table as it used to belong to my grandparents, but the chairs were not my style. During our week of being stuck inside, I finally bit the bullet and ordered some new chairs. Then, our first outing after the ice storm was to Home Depot for a new light fixture for the dining room. Thanks to winter storms, my hubby was in town all week and had some time in the evenings to put this all together for me!



I’m a much bigger fan of the “After” look.

We try to make the most of our time together during all the cold weather, cabin fever loveliness, but some days seem to turn into a blur of baking cookies, watching movies, and taming toddler madness. I’m sure Spring is right around the corner, but for now we’ll keep searching for our lost gloves, watching the Planes movie on a continuous loop, and checking the news for school closures. cbn1 cbn2

Keep warm, friends! And for goodness sake, if you’ve got some better ideas for entertaining kiddos during the winter, please share them with me!



Pirate Party- Arrghh!!

Recently, a sweet little girl I know, named Ryley, turned 4. Her momma, Darrah, and I became friends in grad school, and have remained close since. It’s hard to believe we both have little ones now, let alone little ones who have turned 4!!


Throwback! This was baby Brady and Ry right before her 1st birthday. Where has the time gone?!

Darrah had a fantastic Pirate themed party planned for Ry’s big day, and asked if Chris and I could help her come up with some printables for the food and décor. Of course we obliged, and her party turned out so cute! Here’s some pictures from the party.

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LOVE this Fleet of Cupcakes!

Darrah’s creativity teamed up with a few of these Pirate printables, made for an amazing party that any 4 year old would love to have! Here’s the links to the printables that we designed with Ry’s party in mind, but would be perfect for any Pirate themed event. There are game titles, thank you notes, and food labels. Just click on the link below the image you want to download and print!

O coconuts

O coconuts

Pirate option2

Pirate option2

Pirate photo op

Pirate photo op

Sail Away

Sail Away



Tic Toc Croc Toss

Tic Toc Croc Toss

Walk the Plank

Walk the Plank



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!


Brother (& Sister) Printable

Recently, I took a trip to Florida to have a little Gator girl reunion and help celebrate my friend Maribeth’s baby boy, Bennett. I asked Chris to help me make a printable that I could frame for his nursery. I thought I’d share it on my blog because I figured that I had lots of friends who may have searched for something similar. The original printable was geared towards being a brother, but I asked Chris to make a similar version in girly colors for all the people out there with little girls. Plus, baby Bennett has a pretty awesome big sister (Lynlee) who deserves her own little something!


Just click on the word “brother” or “sister” under the picture you like, download the file, and print!

Bennett (2)





Drop a Beet!

Recently, I bought a whole bunch of beets for a recipe that Brady and I made for Food Revolution Day. I’ve never been a beet girl, per se, but they were pretty tasty in the Rainbow Salad Wrap we made. Nonetheless, we had a whole lot of leftover beets. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but after seeing how amazingly vibrant and purplely-red the juice was, I thought, this would make a fabulous paint color!

I sliced the beets in different directions so they would all have a different shape. Then, we went outside and used the beet chunks like big stamps. This was easy, and not nearly as messy as I would have anticipated. If you ever have a leftover beet or happen to find them at a farmer’s market for a really cheap price, give this activity a try with your little one!

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Planting Herbs- Kids Cook Monday

Us Smiths have had a busy couple of weeks. We have now been in our new home for a little over a week. So far we are loving our rental home and all that the Raleigh area has to offer.


We are especially loving the warmer temperatures and being able to hang out on our back deck. It’s great because it has a screened in portion that provides shade and an open area that leads to the backyard.



I recently decided to use a little corner of our deck to plant some herbs.


So many of the recipes we make call for fresh herbs so it just made sense! I wanted Brady to be a part of the planting so that he could see exactly where the ingredients he was cooking with and eating came from and have a little ownership over our meals.

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I love the idea of having fresh herbs on hand. Chris and Brady planted chives, basil, thyme, and cilantro. I can’t wait to add them to our meals! I love to take something store-bought and throw a handful of herbs in it to make it taste fresh. An easy one that is always a hit is basil mashed potatoes. I use store-bought mashed potatoes and fold in a handful of fresh, chopped basil leaves. It gives it a fresh, Italian flair that is so good as a side dish to just about anything!


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=   Delicious!

I can also picture me throwing some cilantro into a pot of rice for a Mexican side dish, chives on a bowl of soup or baked potato, and thyme sprinkled in a bowl of buttered noodles. Let’s hope I have a little, tiny, morsel of my grandma’s green thumb in my genes and I can keep these little guys alive!


Grow, grow, grow!