Apple Mason Jar Teacher Gift | simplykierste.com

Apple mason jar teacher gift

Today is our first day of school!  I feel like the summer went way too fast, and we just didn't have enough time to do all the things we wanted to do. And...my twin boys are starting kindergarten, and I'm crying my eyes out. For reals. Their time at home goes so quickly--I'm never ready for it to be over.   I'm excited for them and their new adventures, but I have to admit, it's hard for me.  So bittersweet.

Between my tears (I'm kind of joking), I'm going to share our teacher gifts that have been safely delivered to the school this morning. Our fun tradition teacher gift for the first of the year is to give an apple--in some form.  Some years it's been a caramel apple, and other years it's been apple soap. This year I decided on these darling apple mason jars full of pencils--perfect for a teacher's desk!

Apple Mason Jar Teacher Gift | simplykierste.com

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School Lunch Station | Free Printables | simplykierste.com

Make packing lunches easier & faster with a school lunch station!

With my twin boys starting kindergarten this year (sniff, sniff), I will now have five kids to pack school lunch for.  All of a sudden this past week that seemed like... a lot.  We still have a couple of weeks until school starts, but I decided to get organized now!

I've always had some kind of lunch station, but the thought of 25 bags of chips, 25 fruit cups, 25 granola bars, 25 string cheese, and 25 go-gurt (plus sandwich stuff) per week really got me thinking about how I could create something to make the packing process a lot faster and easier. So...the official school lunch station has been created, including some super cute printables as the finishing touch. It's simple, but that's my favorite way to do things!

Make packing school lunches faster and easier with a lunch packing station! Free printable labels included! | simplykierste.com

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5 ways to connect with your kids & stay organized after school | simplykierste.com

5 ways to stay organized & connect with your kids after school

When the kids come home from school, so begins the busiest part of my day.  Homework, making dinner, music lessons and practice, sports--the list goes on.  It's important to me to not only keep this part of the day as organized as possible, but also to really connect with my school-aged kids. They've been gone all day, and I don't want to rush, rush, rush through a crazy afternoon just to put them to bed without really connecting with them.  It's also much easier said than done, which is why I have a game plan!  There are five things on my after school list, and I'm feeling ready (almost) for the new school year to start in two weeks!

5 ways to connect with your kids & stay organized after school | simplykierste.com

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16 Back-to-School & Fall Crockpot Recipes | simplykierste.com

Best back-to-school & fall crockpot meals

And so it begins.

I was doing my calendaring for the week, and realized that our summer is quickly coming to close, and that the craziness and busy-ness of school and fall are upon us. Even though we have a few weeks before school starts,  I have several kids playing soccer, and the season is in full swing starting this week.  It means 4-5 times a week of being out of the house in the evening, and limited time to make and serve dinner.  I know I will need to rely on my crockpot a lot, so I can serve yummy, healthy dinners to my family without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

I gathered some of the most mouthwatering, family-friendly (or anyone friendly) slow cooker recipes I could find, and you can bet they will be on my menu starting...now!  Everything from fajitas to one-pot chicken dinners is on this list, and I hope they'll help you with your busy schedules too!

16 Back-to-School & Fall Crockpot Recipes | simplykierste.com

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DIY notebook paper treat bags | simplykierste.com

DIY notebook paper treat bags

I was at Target (of course) and saw the cutest notebook paper treat bags. I immediately thought how fun they would be for all things school, and at first thought I would buy up a bunch to keep for throughout the year. But I would have to spend a fortune to do it, and I didn't really want to do that. Then I remembered I already had some plain white treat bags at home, and realized it would be super easy for me to make my own DIY version, anytime I needed them!

DIY notebook paper treat bags | simplykierste.com

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First Day of School Free Printables | simplykierste.com

First day of school printables!

I know, I know, back-to-school stuff already??!!  The summer is flying by, and even though we have a little more than a month before my kids are back in school (right after Labor Day), I know it's going to come fast. We are trying to stuff in everything we can, and working on whittling down our summer bucket list.  Too many things, not enough time!

I'm also in my get-everything-organized-before-school-starts mode, and making these cute first day of school printables was on my list.  I know some of you  go back to school in August, so I thought I'd share them now!

First Day of School Free Printables | simplykierste.com

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Gluten Free School Lunch Ideas | simplykierste.com

Gluten-Free School Lunch Ideas

One of my girls was diagnosed with celiac disease a couple of years ago, and one of the hardest parts of going gluten-free is figuring out eating at school and in social situations.  We really are so fortunate now, because there are so many GF options in grocery stores, and even restaurants. Thirty years ago, my brother was diagnosed at  only 18 months old after nearly dying (Celiac Disease was not well known at that time). Back then there were extremely limited options, and the very few gluten-free products that did exist were horrible tasting.  So, when I'm feeling frustrated about a certain situation, I just remember how lucky we are. School has started or is starting soon, and that means school lunches! It can be hard to think of different ideas, and keep kids excited about what's in their lunch. I know there are others of you that are going through the same thing, and I thought I'd share some gluten-free school lunch ideas!

Gluten Free School Lunch Ideas | simplykierste.com

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Thrilled to Pieces Teacher Gift | simplykierste.com

Thrilled to Pieces Teacher Gift

I love giving my kids' teachers a little something at the beginning of the school year, and my kids love it too. It's never anything big or fancy, just a small token of our appreciation, and to show them how much we are all looking forward to the school year.  I actually made this fun "Thrilled to Pieces" Teacher Gift at the end of the past school year for my kids' teachers, but I went ahead and made a tag for the beginning of the school year so I could share them both with you!

Thrilled to Pieces Teacher Gift | simplykierste.com

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School Papers Storage | FREE PRINTABLES | simplykierste.com

School Paper Storage System

 School is almost in session around these parts, and it means that soon a plethora of papers will be heading my way.  Many of those are my kids' "treasures"--artwork, papers, pictures, and other keepsakes from their school years that I want to keep forever.  They can pile up really fast, and I'm excited to share with you my School Papers Storage system--one that I've used for many years to organize all those special papers!

School Papers Storage | FREE PRINTABLES | simplykierste.com

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free back to school printables | simplykierste.com

Free Back to School Printables

Okay, you guys, it's MOVING week!! The movers are coming today, and we will be on our way to the lovely state of New York! We are all just so excited to get there, start exploring the area, and find out all about the kids' new schools. The first day of school is always exciting at our house, and I created a set of darling free Back to School printables to add to that fun first of school picture.

free back to school printables | simplykierste.com

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favorite & free back-to-school fonts | simplykierste.com

Favorite & FREE Back-to-School Fonts!

Hello, my name is Kierste, and I'm a total fontaholic. I LOVE finding and using different fonts in all my projects, and while I have purchased several fonts I adore, I'm always on the hunt for FREE and FABULOUS fonts. Of course I want to pass on my finds to you, and with the start of school quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to share my most favorite and free Back-to-School fonts!

favorite & free back-to-school fonts | simplykierste.com

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Chalkboard Back to School Countdown | simplykierste.com

Chalkboard Back to School Countdown Printable {FREE!}

Back to School time has been one of my favorite times of year since I was small. The smell of new clothes, new pencils all sharpened and lined up in a pencil box, a backpack hung up and ready to go, all the wondering about the new teacher and all the kids in class--all of these things still make me excited! Just the sight of all of the school supplies on the store shelves makes me happy. My kids are already picking out their new backpacks, and imagining what their new school in New York will be like. So...as we are enjoying every last bit of the summer, we are also counting down to the start of SCHOOL! To help us, I created a fun Chalkboard Back to School Countdown!

chalkboard back to school countdown | simplykierste.com

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School Command Center

We are a month and counting to the start of school, and I've been working on a back to school organization plan.  One of the things that can make me crazy is the amount of paperwork that comes home each day. Times that by three kids in school, plus two more starting preschool, it adds up to A LOT!  I really needed a place  for everything--with easy access for the kids. So...I designed and built a school command center, with a place for homework folders, school library books, notes, to-do lists, and notes of encouragement.  Thanks to Michael's---I was able to get all the major components I needed for the entire project.

school command center | simplykierste.com

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