{peace on earth, good will to men}

This week I was faced with a task that I never imagined...talking to my two little 1st graders about an unspeakable tragedy, and explaining to them why their classroom doors are now kept locked. As difficult as this was, it can't even compare to the immense grief and sadness the families of those sweet babies and brave souls that lost their lives on Friday are feeling. My heart is breaking for them, and I hope they can feel the arms of this entire nation around them during  not only this holiday season, but through the months and years to come.

This tragedy struck our nation hard, and its effects will linger for a long time to come, and many of us are looking for answers.  It's being demonstrated in many ways,  including my Facebook feed, which is being inundated with political jargon and opinion. People grieve in different ways, and most of us are feeling so helpless,  I realize that these opinions and statements are a way of wanting to help, wanting to make a difference, expressing shock and sadness, and demanding that something be done.

My friend Char from Crap I've Made wrote a beautiful post , and in it she quoted two verses from the Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day".  Those words haven't left my mind since I read them, and I'd like to share them here:


Keep your Christmas cards on a ring! | Easy Organization | simplykierste.com

Easy organization: keep the Christmas cards you receive on a ring!

I'm kind of in love with book rings.  This holiday season it was the perfect answer to keeping my Christmas cards under control, and I'm excited to share with you this simple holiday organization tip!

I love being able to see all the Christmas cards and letters we receive--it's one of my favorite things!  I look at them all month, then put them in to my Christmas Memories binder after Christmas.   I get a lot of letters and pictures along with cards, and sometimes those have been more difficult to hang or clip up.  I've used several different methods, but this year I decided to try something a little different.


Free Santa Letter Templates

Writing letters to Santa is a big deal around here.  It's a chance for my kids to write out anything and everything they've ever dreamed of, and although some of them are just never going to happen  a tad unrealistic. In this very digital age, it's a rarity that letters are written or sent, so I especially love that this is a chance for them to do so.

  Delivering it to Santa is a big deal too--whether we mail it, or give it to him in person when they sit on his lap. I like to keep copies of their letters, and add them to their files--they are so fun to read later!

I've created a simple, yet darling Santa letter template in a variety of colors--with plenty of space for writing, drawing, and imaginations to run wild!  They are all 8.5 x 11 pdf files, so just save and print!


{christmas with a veteran…part 2}

Thursday night was one of the best nights!  I was able to visit the home of a local veteran and his family through The Home Depot's Celebration of Service, and deliver some darling Christmas decorations.  I was joined by ladies from Operation Home Front and the local Home Depot, and it was really fun to have them there with me.

Quintin & Jennifer are the most darling couple, and it was so fun to be in their home and get to know them a little bit better.  Quintin served in Iraq, where he faced not only the challenges of being in a combat zone, but health challenges as well.  After fighting is way back to good health, he retired from the Army in 2011. He is now making plans for his future, including going back to school, and pursuing a career in music.

Aren't they so cute???


{15 ways to accent simple gift wrap} with chalkboard blue

 Hi!  It's Michelle again from Chalkboardblue.  I'm excited to be sharing some ideas with Simple Kierste readers!
Today I wanted to share with you some fun and different ways you can accent simple gift wrap this Holiday Season!
When I set out to do this post, I challenged myself to use items that I would find around my house that would be fun accents to a gift.  I did buy some things, but for the most part I was able to stick to my plan.  I like to think a little outside the box when I do things. Accent items in a different way.  So here are some ideas of what I came up with...
Embroidery Hoop and Pennants...

$5 Purse-sized Photo Brag Book

We all love to give gifts to those we care about and appreciate, but being on a budget is part of my life, as I'm sure it is yours.  I"m going to share with you one of my favorite gifts to give, and not only is it absolutely darling and super easy to make,  it cost me less than $5!  It's a purse-sized photo brag book that's the perfect size to tuck into a purse or diaper bag, and everyone you give it to will love it.  Think teachers, mothers, grandmothers, friends, and more!


{holiday bake, craft & sew along + $700 giveaway package!}

I am over at According to Kelly guest posting today for the Holiday-Inspired Bake Craft Sew Alongso make sure you come over and say hi!

I also get to help start the holiday season off with a bang, & treat you to an absolutely amazing giveaway as part of our crafty series.

We are giving away a fabulous Prize Package worth more than $700! Wahoo!!!