Create the Good | simplykierste.com

Create the Good…YOU can make a difference!

This post brought to you by Create the Good. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Simply Kierste.

When I think about the community we live in, I think about all the ways that our family is touched by all the people in it.  School teachers, coaches, ballet instructors, music teachers, friends, neighbors, doctors & nurses, tutors, librarians--they are all a part of our lives, and are significant contributors to how my children grow up.  Lives are being changed, and differences are being made, and my family and I want to be able to give a little of that back. That's how communities get stronger and better--with all of us working together, each doing our part to create good around us.

We are fairly new to the area we live in now, and I've got my wheels spinning about some of the ways my family and I can contribute.  One of the organizations that's very close to our heart is JDRF, which is the largest non-government funder of Type 1 Diabetes.  Our oldest son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes just weeks after starting kindergarten, and we very much want to support a cause that is working so diligently to develop answers to not only better treat T1D, but even prevent and cure it.

My one year old daughter was quite ill last year, and hospitalized in the PICU several times over a short period of time.  It was a very challenging time for our family, and we quickly got a glimpse into what it's like to have a critically ill child and spend a long time in the hospital with them.  We had so many wonderful doctors and nurses that truly cared about our daughter, and about our family, and gave us tremendous support.  In an effort to give back to the hospital, and also to help other families that were in similar and even more difficult situations there, we organized a collection of toys and books to be donated to the PICU.  It was an incredible experience for our family, and we witnessed community pulling together as many people reached out to help.  We are greatly looking forward to our next project!

Create the Good | simplykierste.com

Do you have a vision and dream for your community?  A project or cause that you want to help support? Do you want to make an impact and give back? Enter the Create the Good Dream Builder Video Contest! Create the Good and win $2500 for your next project!

Right now through February 7th, 2016, you can submit a short video (60 seconds or less) that details out a plan you're working on or would like to work on--one that will make a real and lasting difference in your community, and how $2500 will help. Create the Good  is looking for passion and great ideas, and can't wait to hear about your community.  You can also post your submissions to the Create the Good Facebook page.

Just imagine what you can do!  One person CAN make a difference, and YOU can be that person!

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Adorable layered heart brownies | simplykierste.com

Layered Heart Brownies

I kind of love Valentine's Day.  Okay, I big, fat, puffy heart Valentine's Day.  There are just so many fun things about it, and one of them is that I can use my heart cookie cutters as much as I want. Nothing is safe--I will cut out anything into the shape of a heart!  Isn't everything cuter like that?  Well, brownies were on the list this week, and I made the most adorable & yummy Layered Heart Brownies you've ever seen.

Adorable layered heart brownies | simplykierste.com

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An adorable valentine tree, perfect Valentine's Day decor! | simplykierste.com

A Valentine Tree {simple Valentine’s Day decor}

I'm going to have to have the most gigantic garage sale this summer when we move into our new house.  I can't tell you how many things I've bought or made to replace that very same or similar item that's in storage.  We even have two trampolines!  (The kids have big plans for them both...we'll see.)  It holds true for holiday decor, too, but with one major difference--I don't believe in having too much!

I recently came across the most fabulous red and white striped pitcher, and being enormously obsessed with both red and stripes, I felt as if it was fate.  The best part? It was only $10!  It was a good day.  I had packed it away for next Christmas, but then I realized how perfect it would be for Valentine's Day.  With a little card stock, twine, and a few branches, an adorable Valentine Tree was born!

An adorable valentine tree, perfect  Valentine's Day decor! | simplykierste.com

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A guide on how you know if your child is ready for piano lessons | simplykierste.com

How do you know if your child is ready for piano lessons?

I don't remember a time that I haven't played the piano. My parents--neither of them with any kind of musical background--started me with piano lessons when I was four years old, and it's been an enormous (and wonderful) part of my life ever since. It taught me at a very young age how to work hard to learn something new, dedication, responsibility, and getting over some of my fears.  I performed and played all through high school, and then into college on a piano scholarship.  I taught piano lessons for many years--all through college and up until my last baby was born two years ago.  The ability to play the piano has given me many opportunities--to play, perform, serve in my church and community, and to teach. It helped support us through college and graduate school, and then helped with the extras when we were finished with school.  But even more than that, it has filled my life with immeasurable joy, and our home has always been filled with the sound of music. How grateful I am that my parents gave me this gift!

Why do I tell you all of this?  You may be wondering what the real-life benefits of piano lessons are, and I could probably go on for much longer if you needed me to! If you have been considering lessons for your child, you may be asking "how do you know if your child is ready for piano lessons"?, and I'm here to give you a little guidance. I get this question a lot from people in my real life, and I thought I would pass on that information here.

A guide on how you know if your child is ready for piano lessons | simplykierste.com

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Toasted Coconut Hot Chocolate | simplykierste.com

Toasted Coconut Hot Chocolate

We are a hot chocolate family. We drink it on a pretty regular basis through the winter, and at least once a week, my kids come bursting through the door from school asking me if I made it for them. While we do use hot chocolate mix sometimes, and definitely for single-serving convenience, I make homemade hot chocolate the majority of the time.  It just takes a few minutes, and it is so worth it!  It's also fun to experiment with different flavors, and this week I tried a Toasted Coconut flavor that is TO-DIE-FOR good.

Toasted Coconut Hot Chocolate | simplykierste.com

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7 things that will help you keep your house clean in about an hour a day | simplykierste.com

7 things that will keep your house clean in about an hour a day!

Oh, how I love having a clean home.  But life is crazy busy, and there are always a million things to do all of the time, and it can be tricky to keep up on housework. Whether you work out of the home or in the home, to-do lists and responsibilities can be a mile long, and you might feel like you just don't have time to do what needs to be done.

Years ago, I developed a method that really worked for me, and I've been able to maintain it through six kids, working, staying home, and now working/blogging from home. I've found that I can just maintain a clean house, the daily chores just don't take as long, so I can fit a lot more in. There are seven things that I do on a daily basis, and those things can help you keep a clean house in just about an hour a day!

I don't always do everything in one straight hour--most of the time it's some in the morning and some in the evening--but the great thing about these things is that they can be done any time of the day or night, based on your personal circumstances.  Except making your bed...it really makes the most sense to do that in the morning. :)

Let me show you...

7 things that will help you keep your house clean in about an hour a day | simplykierste.com

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top 2015 projects | simply kierste

7 favorite bloggers share their TOP POSTS of 2015!

What a year! 2015 was very different than I expected it to be. I thought we would be in our house by now, but due to unforeseen circumstances well outside of our control, instead we are still very cozy in our little temporary apartment.  So much has happened to our family over the last twelve months, and while things have been really hard at times, I've come into 2016 feeling very grateful for all of the things that we do have. And...come summer of this year, Old Salt Farm will finally be built!

2015 was also a very different year for me when it came to blogging.  Because I wasn't in a home that we could decorate in any way, and because all of our things were (and still are) in storage, so many projects and ideas have been placed on the back burner, and I'm REALLY looking forward to tackling them in 2016.  I've missed that part of me--and I'll be so glad to have it back. That said, I was able to to try new projects this year that I might not have otherwise, and I learned to be more creative with the things I had around me.  I'm glad for that, and I'm so excited to present not only my top posts of 2015, but also the top posts of six other fabulous bloggers!

Favorite Bloggers' Top Posts of 2015 | simplykierste.com

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