Smith Family Renovations

Small town Nebraska does thoughtful, realistic renovations


December 2015

Homemade Beef Stroganoff

Are you in the mood for something different at meal time? This beef stroganoff recipe is one I pull out when I am sick of making -and eating- the same old things week after week.

The last few days here have been wet and dreary. And I’ve had to be out in it more than I’d like.  I needed a meal that was warm and comforting today. This hit the spot perfectly.

It is creamy and savory and a big hit at our house! I hope you enjoy it, too.

Easy and Creamy Homemade Beef Stroganoff

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Thursday Top Three: Surpising Christmas Color Combos

Decorating for Christmas really gets you in the spirit of things, don’t you think? We put our tree up, and bam, yuletide joy. Around here we like to do things a little out of the box.  So instead of a green tree with red and gold, or silver and blue, or green and red, or any other expected color choices, we went with something more original.  Here are my top three favorite fresh Christmas color combinations. Read on to see which one we use at our home  🙂

Purple and Gold


photo sources clockwise from top left:,, Andrea Mackey Photography on Getty Images,,

Best with a nice green tree, purple and gold is a beautiful combination for Christmas.  Besides being aesthetically pleasing, I love how purple and gold both exude royalty.  Christ is our king, and having this color combination reflects that. If you’re a Vikings fan, this combo is even better.  (I am not.)

Red and Teal

photo sources clockwise from top left:, user Charlene D’eon Weis on Pinterest,,

To me, this fun color combination is perfectly paired with a white tree or silver. I love red and teal because it can give a vintage vibe, which is  why I chose it for our tree. I am going to include red with turquoise in this group, too. Turquoise is just an all around fun color.

Green and Pink

photo sources clockwise from top left:,,,

Green and pink is such a vibrant pair.  As you can see from the photos, you could use it with a green or white tree.  Your green and be kelly or lime or forest, and you pink can be bright or fuchsia or pale.  Maybe you don’t think of pink being Christmas-y.  But I see it as festive and fresh.

Since I was able to find images of trees and homes decked out in these color combinations, clearly they’re not brand new ideas. But, they are more original and unexpected than red and green, red and gold, and others.

What colors do you pair up at Christmas? I’d love to read your responses below! Also connect with me on Instagram by snapping a photo of your unexpected decor and tagging #smithfamilyrenovations. I’ll give you a like and a follow, and I will also share one on my Facebook page.

Here’s mine! See the rest of my instagram photos here:

Screenshot (10)

Thanks for reading friends.  I hope you’re enjoying a blessed Christmas season without getting too bogged down with our never-ending to do lists and expectations.



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cover photo credit left to right:, Andrea Mackey Photography on Getty Images,

Reading Nook (P)inspiration and Tips


Besides a kind heart and a love for Jesus, an admiration of books and reading is the number one thing I could hope to instill in my children.  Reading opens up a whole amazing world of imagination that television and the Internet can not.  I was an early reader and an avid reader.  It helped me to excel in school early on and allowed me to establish confidence in myself.

It is well known that reading to your children when they’re young sets a foundation for them to enjoy books later on.  Another thing you can do to encourage reading is setting up a special spot in your home for you child to read.

Often times called a ‘reading nook’, this special place can give your child an area to relax and immerse themselves in a good book.

I am hoping to implement a reading nook in my Ivy’s room very soon.  I found a lot of beautiful examples on Pinterest.  So, here are my favorite ones. You can find even more and see the sources for the photos below on my Pinterest board here.

I could devote whole post  to my love of play tipis! I just think they are fun and cute and amazing.  We have to got have one! I’ve been reading up on how to make one because they’re a little pricey.  Another thing I am digging about this reading nook is that the books are accessible for the kiddo using it.  You could even rotate books from the higher shelves down to the bottom so your kiddo doesn’t get tired of the same old books.
There are a couple things I really love about this one.  First, it is geared for a boy.  Often times people think of girls as the ones who love reading, but reading is for everyone.  It’s important to encourage our sons to love books.  Second, that crib mattress they’re reusing here – THE BOMB.  It’s just super smart because you’re bound to have an extra one once baby is done with the crib and toddler bed.
I  picked this one because I am sucker for unicorns and fun pillows.  Seriously though. Doesn’t that look super comfortable? It even has a shag rug and extra stuffies near by.  I also ADORE that pink basket.  I can see my Ivy utilizing a space like this one.
I pinned this image mostly because it is beautiful.  In my family white would not be a good choice. Not for the the kids and not for me. I do love the canopy.  Close it up and your child has a little secret hiding place to dive into a good book.
With this picture we can see you don’t need a lot of extra room to create a spot for your child to read.  I love how this one is decorated with the letter pages, and the shelf above is a great use of space.  Also I’m pretty sure that is a magazine holder being used to hold the books.  Super awesome.  I love reusing things!

Don’t forget to check out my Pinterest board for more ideas!

So how can you create a reading nook for your child?  I have a few tips!

Define the space

This can be done a number of ways.  As some of the photos above depict, you can use a tipi or canopy of sorts to make the nook separate from the rest of the room.  If you don’t want to buy or make a canopy or tipi, you could use a curtain and rod.  Another idea I had was to paint the designated wall or corner a different color than the rest of the room.  Ivy’s room is white and I’m planning on leaving that way, but wouldn’t it be cute to paint one corner a fun color? I’m sure she’d even have some idea of what color she’d like.  Which leads me to the next tip.

Allow your child to help

Even the youngest little ones like to have a say about their surroundings.  If you let your kiddo pick out pillows to use or a paint color to use, he or she will take ownership of the space, and in turn enjoy it more.  A sense of ownership may even inspire your child to help keep the space tidy. We can dream right? Really though, let your child have a say in where the nook will be, how to it is decorated, ect to ensure they’re gaining a space they will use.  Your child may even do this on their own.  I remembering camping out in my closet to read when I was a kid.  It was my own little space away from the rest of the world. Oh, and it was comfortable.

Comfy and accessible

Add pillows, reuse that crib mattress, give them a cozy blanket.  Make sure the nook is a place they can comfortably kick back.  You want them to stay awhile, right?!  Also, the books should be where the child can reach.  This will come naturally if your child is helping you set it up; but an adult designed space may have tall bookcases or high shelves.  Watch out for this, and allow the space to invite your child in.

I wish I could claim this idea as my own, but either way it is GENIUS.  You can mount white vinyl rain gutters from Home Depot to act as book shelves.  Here’s a photo from Beth from Sunshine on the Inside so you can see what I mean.

SUPER SMART, RIGHT?! Don’t forget to check out Beth’s blog:


Does your child have a reading nook? I’d love to hear about it! Or even better, snap a pic for instagram and tag it #smithfamilyrenovations. If this post has inspired you to get to work on one, I’d love to see your finished result on Instagram too, #smithfamilyrenovations.

Thanks for reading friends!



One Pan Cheesy Chicken and Rice with Broccoli

What a whirlwind of a weekend we had a couple of weeks back! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The whole weekend, really, is just great. Thursday and Friday was lots of food and more food and football and family time. What could be better than that?

Then that Saturday Tim and I had a booth at the Odell craft fair. It was our first craft show, and the first time we put ourselves out there as a business. Stay tuned for my craft fair wrap up post, coming soon!

We were too busy to even do our grocery shopping this Friday though the weekend, so I haven’t made it to the store yet.  But here’s what’s on the menu!


One Pan Cheesy Chicken and Rice with Broccoli

Continue reading “One Pan Cheesy Chicken and Rice with Broccoli”

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