House of Smiths Happenings + An Artsy Weekend

These past few weeks have been quite eventful. 
Between school, dance classes, homework, basement makeover projects, birthdays and blogging... well, let's just say that I'm tired at the end of the day and DEFINITELY sleeping well at night.

I'm sure some of you have already seen and heard about our latest going on's from our Instagram feed, but for those of you who haven't... here's a little recap.
1. The girls have been wanting to walk home from school lately, like the big kids, so I follow behind them in my car. There is NO way I'm letting three cute girls walk home all by themselves; I don't care if that makes me a weird overprotective mom.
2. The bitty ballerina and her sisters are gearing up for their Spring recital.
3. I spent two hours one night on (what I think are pretty advanced) first grade spelling words. Matching, repetition, find-it game... I'm exhausted; but you better believe I'll know how to correctly spell "leprechaun" and "gnawed" for the rest of my freakin' life.
4. Working on disguising this huge eyesore in the basement the best we can. Who in the heck designs a room plan with the water main shutoff in the middle of a wall!?!? grrr

5. Our spunky, smart, sassy, beautiful twins turned 7 this past month and I'm STILL having a hard time wrapping my head around this new number. These two girls are the funniest, most imaginative, creative 7 year olds I know and are still the best-est of friends.
People ask me ALL the time if I make them dress alike, and to that, I have to giggle. These girls insist on dressing the same about 95% of the time. They're convinced that if they don't look the same (literally) that people won't know they're twins! haha! I think it's super cute, so I'm gonna let them wear matching clothes until they don't want to anymore

I'm sure a lot of you have figured this out already, but during project-busy times, our posts tend to be spaced out quite a bit more. I know that most bloggers (especially those who blog for a living) would call me crazy for not posting something EVERY day, but around here, we've taken on the motto:
Quality verses Quantity.
It usually takes a minimum of 8-10 hours to do a single post (for us), and that's not including project and photographing time. Between uploading, editing and putting photos in collages... along with writing out tutorials or even just updates, one single post becomes an ALL day job.
So, for those of you who have wondered why we ONLY write posts and updates 2... sometimes 3 times a week, it's because those other days I'm spending OFFline, chipping away at projects, playing with our little family or taking some time out to work on, ME.

6. Finding things to do during the winter months to entertain a 5 yr old, while her sisters are in school, that doesn't include a TV or coloring, is hard work! One day we took in some shopping at City Creek, along with a little stop off at Sephora for some makeup play.
Another day last week we ventured off to Scheels to ride the huge ferris wheel for a $1.00 and stumbled upon some pretty cool photo ops as well. Yes, we're dorks, we know.

7. Workouts are getting harder. MUCH harder; and the temptation to give in to foods that I know I shouldn't eat is getting stronger. I had a bit of a meltdown last week and felt really frustrated due to the fact that I hadn't lost even an OUNCE in over 10 days. After a tear-filled conversation with Cason and some amazing words of support from close friends, I'm happy to report that yesterday I met with Jared and found out I'm down another 3 pounds!!! So, after some uncomfortable caliper pinching on my bod (I hate that part), I've officially dropped 15 more pounds of fat, TOTAL, in just a little over 5 weeks!!!

Jared is a miracle worker... I kid you not, and on my next "bad week" I'm going to try my hardest to remember what he says: "If you're willing to do EVERYTHING it takes and make no excuses, anything is possible; you just have to trust the process and stay motivated. This WILL WORK."

8. Speaking of taking some time out for ME (which I think is important for EVERYONE), I got the chance to attend a really amazing event this past weekend that was both energizing and therapeutic all at once. It was the Fallow Field Farms, Artsy Weekend... and it was AMAZING!!!

The hardworking, inspiring Marci Welcker put on this small, intimate gathering to bring together women who need a few days to exercise their creative minds. The venue was styled amazingly by Jen from 3 Dotters and we had classes that included chalking, leather stamping, art journaling, bread & cheese making and more.

Even though there were lots of women to chat with around me, I also had long periods of time to sit in quiet contemplation while working on creative projects. The first project of the weekend, put together by the beautiful and talented Dana Engemann, was a personal art box. Basically it was a plain ol', small cardboard box that we were encouraged to embellish with items that "spoke" to us. Easy and fun, right?
Well...3 hours into the "challenge"... this is all I had.

Don't get me wrong, the papers are adorable and the lace is great... but that took me all of about 20 minutes to cut out and paste on. For the remaining 2 hours and 40 minutes I sat, paralyzed by the fact that I didn't know WHAT to do on this silly little box! While everyone else around me created amazing works of art on THEIR "canvases", every time I would attempt to put a new item on MINE, I would start to panic and wonder...
"Will other people like this? Is it something I can use somewhere sensibly in my home? If I put this or that here or there will it just look like a cluttered mess?"

I joked with the ladies around me that I must be experiencing a creative block, but at one point I had to discretely duck off into the bathroom to pull myself together. It had nothing to do with the actual project itself, but with the expectations I was putting on myself to have my box look as great and "artsy" as all the others!
Why did I care if anyone liked it? What did it matter if it made sense or looked too cluttered. It was JUST A BOX!!! If it was awful I could throw it away, if it turned out great, I could keep it... no big deal, right? That's what I kept telling myself, but deep inside I knew that the reason I couldn't just let my creative mind go free, was because I was comparing myself to others and in doing so was stifling any creativeness within me that was trying to come out. I know better than this, but still let these feelings take over for those few hours... and it made me so mad!
Sure, my passion, hobby and job is to share creative home decorating ideas and projects with people on our blog, but at home I can focus on just what I'M doing and I don't have to worry about everyone else. It was the most awkward and uncomfortable feeling, and my friends could plainly see that I was struggling, so I set the box aside and started in on the next project for that day... an art journal.

The first 30 minutes or so felt pretty good, but then once I had the base of my book created, I realized that I was hitting my stupid comparison roadblock again. Just as I was about to sink into a creative depression (ha! okay, a little dramatic, but that's what it felt like), a couple of coincidental things happened in that next 10 minutes or so that completely turned my weekend around.

First, I remembered the things that my little adorable Rhonna Farrer had said earlier in the day:
"Your creative mind is just like any other muscle in your body. You have to exercise it, work it out and constantly continue to keep it strong and active. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing, focus on your own ideas, run with them and let your creative mind soar." Second, my sassy and most hilarious friend Margie Aslett (who designs scrapbooking products for a living) gave me a tight squeeze and quietly encouraged me to "just decorate the damn book already and stop looking around at what everyone else was doing.", and third, my stylish table-mate and long time close friend Becki Crosby flipped her artsy supplies around and welcomed me to anything I wanted to use, stating that "what's mine is yours!"

The boost in confidence and supportive words helped me to shake off any uncertainty and I started working. The process was slow, but I kept my head down, my mind clear of any distractions, reminded myself that I was Awesomer than that silly little box project I failed horribly at... and just let myself create.
In the end (literally, most people were walking out the door as I was gluing on my last embellishment) I had something that I was really proud of.

Before I could even stand up from my chair, Jamie (another truly amazing friend of mine), grabbed me in an unexpected bear hug and said, "It looks so great!!! I'm so proud of you!"
I honestly don't know if it was the fact that I had sat with my own thoughts for too long, if I was slightly embarrassed from all the time that it took me to create ONE thing, when others had created 5, or if I was just overly tired from a crazy-fun, sleepless weekend with friends... but I started to tear up again.

Did my colors and patterns all go together?... maybe not. 
Should I have picked out bigger book rings so that I could actually fit something in between the front and back of my book?... (haha!) most likely *blush*
But in that moment, it was perfect.

The moral of my story...

1. NOBODY can be good at everything! (believe me, this concept is harder to grasp for us type-A personalities, who usually feel the need to control the situation and get everything just right) We all excel in different areas of our lives, so if you find that you're not as great at something, but WANT to be... don't give up, just keep trying.

2. Comparison is the thief of joy.

3. ...and probably the most important thing I took away...

Whether it's a long weekend or simply a short afternoon, I have become very passionate about the fact that, especially as women, we need to take some time out of our busy lives and schedules every once in a while to create something beautiful, laugh till we cry and cry till we laugh, with friends who lift us up and have our best interests at hand. It's good for the soul and it also helps us to be better wives and mothers in the long run.

Here's to another busy, great week!


  1. Shelley! Good for you for working so hard and sticking with your fitness goals. I'm sure being surrounded by all of those amazing women was FUN but so intimidating! I think you are a super amazing woman as well! Comparison is the thief of joy is one of my fave quotes and I need to be reminded of it daily!

  2. Aw honey I wish I would've known you were dealing with those feelings. I stop myself ALL THE TIME from creating things because I fear that they will not be as good. To be quite honest with you that was a small part of why I didn't sit down and do the projects myself! I've had leather supplies for two years that I've been afraid to use because they won't look as cool as Chrissy's. I loved everything you made...even your sweet little box. You chose sweet things that made me think of your sweet little girls when I saw them put together. I thought about what a great mom you are when I saw it. You are an amazing girl Shelley!!

    And as far as the weight loss goes...girl you have this thing licked. You really are my hero and I tell people about you all of the time. How much you inspire me.

    Thank you for coming this weekend, I loved having you there to share it with me.

  3. I can soooooo relate to feeling self-conscious in group activities like that (it's Jr High all over). It's the worst feeling. I wonder if you'll be more creative now that you took yourself out of your comfort zone. Just a thought. Thanks for explaining why you're not writing as much. I'd rather read interesting posts than just fillers. I have to say it again-your girls are adorable!

  4. Friend! I am so encouraged by you. Thank you for emailing me back and giving me tips. I am happy to say that TODAY I started the process of living a healthy lifestyle through diet changes and exercise! YEAHHH!

    Thank you for being an inspiration to me--If Shelley can do it, I CAN TOO! :)

    Love ya sistah!


  5. I sooooo know this feeling. I really like the thought about exercising our creative muscles. I have found that reading too many blogs and pinterest actually stifle my creativity instead of expanding it because I feel like everything I do is just a copycat of someone else's project. I was more creative when I had to come up with my own ideas and exercise that muscle. And I HATE doing projects with a group of people if the project doesn't fall right in the center of my comfort zone. Thanks for the great reminders.

  6. I agree ~ there is no way I would let my girls walk home alone in this day and age. I wanted to mention when one of my daughter's was young we bought the Leap Frog Turbo Twist Speller. You put in the spelling words and then it does all the work....it really makes it fun. They have tons on ebay right now.

  7. I love the photo of you both wearing lipstick, so cute! I remember my mama letting me try on a hideous orange lipstick when I was about the same age and thinking that I looked fabulous. Thankfully your little one has better taste!

  8. AAHHH!! I had intended to comment just to say that I really appreciate your less-frequent, more-substance posting. I always know when I see a HoS post in my reader that there will be something good to read or look at!

    But THEN, you took a big left turn & made me cry! Thanks so much for sharing that you are not always full to the brim with amazing creativity and what you learned from an uncomfortable experience. Your posts where we get to know you a little better are my favorite!

    1. You took the words right out of my mouth.

  9. You should be very proud. I have a love hate relationship with my weight. Being military and moving often, including living in hotels for a couple of months at a time, my weight is constantly up , then by the time I get grounded in a new community and start getting it off again, it's time to prepare for the next move!
    You are doing great and just take it one day at a time.

  10. First off, I want to say that I think it's perfectly fine if you don't post every day. Quality is def more important than quantity. Plus, I follow numerous blogs and, never wanting to miss one bit of the wonderful ideas and inspiration from all of you amazing women, I find myself spending way to much time reading posts. So, if you can do what you need to do in fewer posts, I say go for it - help yourself, and save your readers a little bit of time. Believe me, we will still be here. I'll bet your content will remain as good, possibly even better, if you aren't stressed to throw something out just to post.
    Secondly, I can really relate to how you were feeling trying to put your craft together. I too am always worrying about what others will think of what I make or how I decorate. I am trying to adopt the 'I want to make something beautiful even if nobody else cares' attitude. I also need to stop looking for other people's approval and just go for it and enjoy what I make regardless of anyone else's ideas. I have gotten so much from all the blogs I follow and appreciate all the time and effort you ladies put into them.
    So, relax - take a day off. Like I said, we will still be here.
    Kate. mkc1970@aol.com

  11. i LOVE the end of this post SO much. I related a lot. i love being artsy-fartsy but every once in a while i find my self letting negativity interrupt what is supposed to be free flowing creativity... and it just sucks. It's easy to feel redundant sometimes, especially with all the awesomeness on pinterest and blogs and such. But what makes crafting so great is that everyone's interpretation of the same project is so different. You are totally AWESOMER.

  12. I just wanted to comment because I really love your blog. I subscribe to LOADS of blogs and typically never get around to reading any of them, but when I see that you've posted another I am so excited to read it. I've been addicted ever since you did the ikea chevron mat!

    I desperately want to be creative, but quite often find my mind blank and searching to find something that someone else has done so I can copy. I've passed this on to my little boy too who won't attempt to draw new things because he thinks he'll get it wrong. I just wanted to say that I love the things you do, and quite honestly - the box you see as a failure - I really like haha!

    I'm sure if your friend were having the same doubts about themselves you would tell them to not think about others etc, and you've just got to make that friend voice talk to you. Most women struggle with this I think... but we are all wonderful.

    Anyway - looking forward to seeing the next post!x

  13. Props to you for keeping your priorities in line and not succombing to the pressure of blogging constantly. I know at least part of the reason you do what you do is to spend more time with your fam. Glad you aren't throwing that away to post unnecessary blog entries. Also, congrats on the weight loss. You are an inspiration to me! As soon as this baby is born, I am goingtito be right there with you!

  14. Great post! Also, I'm in the very beginning stages of weight loss so thanks for reminding me to stay focused because it will pay off!

  15. so much goodness in this post. For example: goodness #1 cute kids and a super cool mama-hello Sephora?! Goodness #2 A crafty weekend getaway with friends-heavenly Goodness #3 You don't have to post every day on your blog to have a loyal following and a fantastic blog......your family and YOU comes first. Amen. Goodness #4 (and this is a biggie for me) the inspiration you give to women everywhere wether they are trying out a new workout regime, trying to eat healthier, or in my case, trying to lose that 80 lbs I put on during my last pregnancy. Motivation for my life long struggle is so hard to come by. I mean real, true motivation, not just the look in a magazine and compare yourself to the unattainable type of motivation. Thank you for that. I think of you so often during the day....when I'm about to make a bad food choice, when I don't want to work out, when that chocolate is challenging me to a duel. You are a true motivation for me!

  16. Funny, I never imagined that I would be doing more homework now than I did in school, we are kinder, 4th & 8th.
    One word...google.

  17. Love your posts. I would much rather you write from the heart and share your amazing ideas a few times a week instead of just posting to post. I try and do the same thing. :) I love the Sephora trip. I can't wait to do that with my daughter one day...great idea!

  18. I love your whole post! But something hit home! "Comparison is the thief of joy." So very true, thanks for the reminder! Looks like such a cool thing to do, getting together for a creative weekend! Real hands on and lots of laughs! So fun!

    PS your family is adorable!


  19. Your exercise/healthy living post updates are great. I find them to be very motivating. And I also wanted to say thank you for your honesty. You say what so many of us are afraid to say out loud. You're great!

  20. I think the bloggers who post every day are insane. You go right ahead and take time for your family. They won't be this young for long.

  21. I think it's great your blogging only two or three times a week. Let all the other bloggers know that you don't need to blog every day to be a professional blogger. Lets lower the bar of professional blogging to make it realistic for busy moms like us! :)

  22. I think it's great that you're blogging 2 or 3 times a week. We should show others that everyone can be a professional blogger/domestic diva/fabulous mother at the same time by not feeling like we have to spit out a new post every day!

  23. *with tears in my eyes*
    I'm SO honored to call you a TRUE!
    love you. proud of you.
    you inspiRe me!

  24. Love this post! I love the glimpses into your everyday life and the real emotions behind being creative! I feel like you do a really great job of this in your blog and it makes it so endearing and refreshing to read!

  25. I love your true honesty. I lost my bff about 10 years ago, and there hasn't been anyone to take her place. I long for finding those women that I can laugh with, cry with, support, and create with. I'm keeping the faith that God will direct the crossing of paths to these ladies. I loved seeing what crazy fun you all had.


  26. I love your true honesty. I lost my bff about 10 years ago, and there hasn't been anyone to take her place. I long for finding those women that I can laugh with, cry with, support, and create with. I'm keeping the faith that God will direct the crossing of paths to these ladies. I loved seeing what crazy fun you all had.


  27. OMGosh, I love you a little more now! Thanks for sharing chica! You ARE awesomer!!! :D

  28. You know what's funny is I sat there a couple over from you not worried about crafting but that why would anyone want to talk to me I am no body! With all of these bloggers and women that are achieving things I am not really anyone just a want to be artist! Saturday morning I had a moment where I text my husband and told him I wanted to come home because I was feeling so stupid! He reminded me why I was there and that I was good enough! It is funny our perceptions of other people that we all feel mostly the same! I felt to intimidated to talk to you girls because I felt like I was not good enough. Thanks for sharing:)

  29. awesome shelley! i wish i lived closer to you.

  30. Yay for sticking with it and losing the weight. The weeks where nothing happen on the scale are the hardest..and usually where I give up. Trying hard to get back in the game...you are definitely inspiring me!!

  31. you're adorable! i love your posts and will wait, however long it takes. and yeah, the homework nights with my kids remind me of my childhood late night study sessions. i can still hear my sleep deprived father singing my spelling lessons "e-i... g-h-t!" lol

  32. you did good! i really wanted to attend marci's event but this is when being poor and living the simple life sucks! next time!

  33. I agree Shelley, you don't have to post every single day. I mean you do have a life :)When you do, I enjoy every single word I read. I too sometimes feel not as creative as some but I've decided that I create what I love and I do get ideas from those who have so much imagination and I make things my own. You should be so proud of yourself, you are really doing so well with your weight loss. UGH, I am still stuck in a rut and don't know why I just can't get moving. Here we are in March and I haven't even started dieting. I know how important it is to make time for you, even if it's just a half hour a day. That's what my doctor told me, but do I listen, not yet :( I will, but when. Anyway, I want you to know that I love your blog, I love reading what you have to say and I love seeing your remodels and everything. Your girls are beautiful. Keep up all the good work. :)

  34. You are awsomer! I love that you were brave to share your experience and not just let us all think that it was all fun, warm and fuzzy. Those event always sound so fun to me until I think about not being just like everyone else. I don't want to look like a copycat but what if my ideas look stupid. I loved what Margie said to you. Keep being AWSOMER!

  35. I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award! check it out at: http://www.simplyjune.org/2013/03/versatile-blogger-award-yeah.html

  36. Your weight loss journey has been inspiring to watch! I love how honest you are about how hard it is to lose weight. It is something that takes time and effort, it is not something that just happens overnight! Way to go!!

  37. Laughing so hard over A's skunk photo-hilarious!

    I can totally relate on the comparison. I'm taking a drawing class at the local community college and it's supposed to be a beginner class but most of the kids (yes, they are all like a decade younger than me!) can draw--like REALLY draw. Amazing stuff that blows me away. I am constantly having to remind myself this is MY JOURNEY and not to compare myself with them. It is so hard but man it feels good when I draw something and see my own progress and know that I am already so much better than I was at the beginning of the semester. I will have to remember Rhonna's comment about creativity when I start to compare or get discouraged.

    You guys are doing awesome stuff and I always get a touch of pride when I see people posting your stuff on pinterest or mentioning you on other blogs. :)

  38. this is about 4 (or more) posts in one! if you broke it up, then you'd have plenty to post about everyday. :)

  39. you are amazing and I love that you are documenting your weight loss/life style change here and giving us inspiration.
    I love checking your blog and it is here a couple of years ago that I saw, photo by Emilie. I've taken classes, etc. learning wonderful things from her. She is wonderful as are you:) Thanks

  40. I am not recommending this because I think you aren't working hard enough...I read about how hard you are working and I think this might work for you...I gain nothing from you considering it.

    I started, on January 5th, the Body by Visalus shakes - I have a shake for breakfast (using Almond Milk, fresh fruit and the product) and a shake for lunch along with a salad or cup of soup (something light) and a regular dinner. I have lost 15 lbs in the past month, and 4.5" in my waist...I am only managing to get to to the gym 2x per week (I am not killing myself). I am paying close attention to my carb intake because that is what my body stores, as well as sugar. No diet sodas, no bread, no sugar...but I don't miss it. My snacking cravings are gone and when I do eat a meal, I am not so hungry that I over eat. I have a TON of energy, as there are so many vitamins and minerals in the shake, I am sleeping better, and my indigestion is gone. What I have noticed more than the weight loss is the difference in my body...no more back fat, my tummy (after 4 kids) is flat-er (not flat, just flatter). I feel great.
    Anyway, you may want to look into it - it is so easy, nutricious and worth it.
    Good luck...you look great and keep going!



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