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!

Summatime…Smith Style

As I sit here typing, it’s currently about 68 degrees out, raining, and I’m wearing sweat pants and drinking hot tea. It’s hard to believe that it’s August! Thank you, Raleigh, for this unexpected break from Summer weather. With that being said, I thought it was a perfect time to sit and recap all of our Summer adventures. Between family trips, girls weekends, and tagging along for some of Chris’s work trips, we’ve been on the go all Summer. We also celebrated mine, Brady’s, my mom’s, and Chris’s birthdays…along with our anniversary and Father’s Day- we’ve been busy.

I kicked off Summer with a Gator girl weekend in Savannah. That was followed by a work trip (for Chris) that we tagged along for to Virginia Beach. Then B-Man and I headed to Atlanta for my Goddaughter’s 1st birthday. After that we took a trip to Washington D.C., then a long weekend in Oak Island, NC, another girl’s trip to Tampa/Naples, then a family vacation to Myrtle Beach which turned into a staycation in Raleigh/Durham area, and then a week long trip to Savannah.

Whew!! This. Summer. Was. Awesome.

Here’s a virtual scrap book of our travels…

Gator Girl Reunion in Savannah, Memorial Day Weekend.

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Virginia Beach, VA

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Atlanta trip with Brady… playing at the lake with Taylor and Jackson, exploring the Georgia Aquarium, and celebrating Miss Taylor’s 1st Birthday.

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Washington D.C. Mine and my friend Lindsay’s hubbies both had to be in D.C. for work, so we tagged along for some sightseeing fun!

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Oak Island, NC. 4th of July weekend, visiting with our Lancaster buddies!

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Summer also consisted of lots of golf, birthdays, and date nights!

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Gator girl weekend in Naples, FL

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Myrtle Beach, SC

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“Staycation”- Jordan Lake, NC Zoo, and Durham

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Savannah, GA- visiting Grandpa and Nana

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Traveling with young kids is not always easy, but I’m truly grateful for this time in our lives where the kids are not in school full time, I’m not working, and we have the freedom to get out and expose our kids to new adventures. We’ve made some amazing memories this Summer! Even though I’m sad to see this summer come to an end, I’m secretly excited for the structure and routine that comes with Brady starting Pre-School, being home for the kids’ naptimes, and cooking/eating dinner at home. And of course, the fact that College Football is just around the corner!!!

Carolina Smitten

The Smith Family has been in North Carolina for a little over a month now. It’s been a fast month, yet we’ve done a lot of exploring! When moving to a new area of the country, you don’t always know what you’re getting yourself into or how you’ll like the spot you’ve chosen to live. We got so lucky when we moved to Pennsylvania when we happened to find the small town of Lititz. It had charm out the wazoo and was so safe and friendly. We always said we hit the jackpot finding that little city, and so far the feeling is mutual with Garner, NC.

Chris had no idea how close we would be to Downtown Raleigh when he found our rental house in Garner. One day we were driving around looking for restaurants or Target or something of the like, and we suddenly saw all the big downtown buildings in front of us (less than 15 minutes from our house.) Raleigh is a very inconspicuous city. It’s surrounded by suburbs and nestled in between huge oak trees. We’re loving taking advantage of all it has to offer; food truck rally’s, fun restaurants, beautiful parks, a weekly Farmer’s Market, and an AMAZING kids museum. It also helps that we moved here during the most perfect time of year so we are able to get out and about and enjoy all that the area has to offer.


Riding the Kiddie Boats at Pullen Park in Raleigh.


Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh


Giant train table at Marbles Kids Museum

Our little town of Garner seems to be going through a growth spurt. There are several new shopping plazas-two Targets within 10 minutes of the house (moms you get how important this is!) We also have two lakes within 10 minutes of the house. The kids are loving going to the parks, story time at the library, and playing in our new backyard.


This slide is HUGE! White Deer Park in Garner (also where a HUGE tree fell down right by us!)


Bubba playing in our backyard- lovin’ tank top weather!


Lake Wheeler Park


Playground overlooking the lake!

Brady is enrolled in pre-school for the Fall and he can’t wait to make some little friends. He truly misses our playgroup in Pennsylvania (as do I!) but is loving all the kids in our new neighborhood.  Everyone has been super welcoming which has made the transition “back down south” that much sweeter. Our house is almost completely unpacked, but to be honest, we have put some housework on hold recently because we are just having too much fun on the weekends getting to know our new city- hanging pictures can wait, right?!

Chris is loving getting to know all the golf courses in the area and trying out the local breweries. He’s looking forward to getting his motorcycle out and also doing some fishing since the weather is so nice right now. I’m loving that we are less than 2 hours to the beach and 2 hours from mountains. I can’t wait until we get some family and friends up here to visit and can help us do some more exploring!


Me and the hubby at Lake Benson (4 minutes from our house!)

Fruit Salsa- Kids Cook Monday

We recently discovered a small strawberry farm near our house that let’s you come pick your own strawberries. They are the most delicious strawberries I’ve ever had!!! So sweet and so juicy! We’ve gone a couple of times recently because they are so ripe right now.


Brady hard at work pickin’ “drawberries.”


The “fruit of our labor.”

Brady will gobble up strawberries by the pint, but I wanted to try some fun recipes with some of the berries we picked. For Kids Cook Monday, I thought I’d make a fruit salsa that has lots of strawberries, apples and kiwis with a little basil from our herb garden. This recipe was mostly chopping and mixing. I did the fruit cutting and Brady did the lime squeezing, basil ripping and sugar stirring. I’d be lost without him! 🙂

Fruit Salsa


About a pint of strawberries- chopped into bite sized pieces

1 green apple- peeled and diced

2 kiwis- peeled and diced

the juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup of white sugar

About 1/4 cup chopped basil (or ripped by toddler hands!)

*Cinnamon & Sugar pita chips for dipping

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This recipe comes together so easy. You chop, dump in a bowl, and mix. It gets tastier if it sits for an hour or so, but you can also eat it right away.  We loved that it was such a refreshing, light dessert. The hubby liked the pop of basil and Brady could’ve just eaten it with a spoon.


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!

Planning, Packing, and Parties. Oh My!

SO much going on this month and next!!! I’m currently sitting in my living room , with a glass of wine, Pandora playing, the fireplace on, and pretending like I have nothing else to do but blog. Meanwhile, my house is a mess, my hubby is out of town for work, and, oh yeah, we’re moving to North Carolina next month!

When Chris first mentioned the idea of putting his application in for a North Carolina (Raleigh area) sales position that opened up in his company, I was like, oh sure, right, you’re kidding… Then, the more we talked about what a great opportunity it would be to explore another new area of the country, get closer to family, and add a new experience to his resume, the more the adventurous (crazy) part of my brain got on board! Chris has always dreamed of living in North Carolina- to him, it’s the perfect place to live. After a super quick road trip with the kids to check out the Raleigh area, I was smitten too. Ever since we made the decision to “go” for the NC job, everything has fallen into place in a very God-orchestrated, whirlwind kind of way.

We listed our PA home last Thursday and it sold Saturday…to a young couple buying their first place- she’s a teacher! {LOVE!} They fell in love with the house that we fell in love with just less than 2 years ago. Now we have started the search for our next home in North Carolina. We plan on renting for a while until we can decide where exactly we want to be long-term and can find our forever home!


In the mean time, we are busy getting ready for lots of visitors. My mom will be coming up in a few weeks to help me with the boys, packing, and planning Nolan’s first birthday. Our besties, Jill and Andy, are coming up for a visit soon after that. Then, our brother and sister-in-law and niece are coming for a weekend. Everyone thinks they are coming to sight see and visit, but secretly I’ve got long hours of packing boxes planned for them. HAHA!

In April we’ll be celebrating our sweet lil’ Bubba’s first birthday. Holy moly. What a year it’s been! Nolan is the best thing that has happened to us in our short time in Pennsylvania, and while we have made some amazing memories and life-long friends, he’ll always be the my favorite part of our stint in the Northeast. Best. Souvenir. Ever.


In addition to party planning, packing, and visitors, we plan on using the rest of our time in PA re-visiting some our favorite spots in Lititz, eating at our favorite local restaurants, and spending time with our friends. When we first moved to Lititz I took Brady to a free trial Gymboree class. Not only did we end up joining Gymboree and having an absolute blast in the classes, but more importantly, I met another mom who graciously invited me to be a part of her weekly playgroup. I’m forever grateful for that chance meeting that turned into my weekly outlet that connected me to other mommies and gave Brady his first real group of friends! We sincerely hope we will keep in touch with these wonderful families that have been such a support to us during our short time in Pennsylvania.


Brady’s little friends!

Wish us luck in this new venture. We know it’ll be a crazy couple of months to pick up everything and start all over again, but it feels so right! Our kids are still young, so if we are ever going to get the chance to start a new life and see a new part of the country, this is the time to take it!