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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Pecan Sticky Bun Bites | simplykierste.com

Pecan Sticky Bun Bites

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pillsbury. The opinions and text are all mine.

One of the best parts of Christmas Day at our house is the food.  It's all about finger foods, snacks, small appetizers & treats, and little bites that everyone can come and help themselves to during the day. Whether we're playing games, chatting with family and friends, or enjoying new gifts, the kitchen is usually the hub, and I love having plenty of food for everyone to enjoy. Everyone gets to choose their favorites, and then I like to add something new! This year I made Pecan Sticky Bun Bites, and not only are they super easy to make, they are so yummy, and perfect for Christmas!

Pecan Sticky Bun Bites | simplykierste.com

I love using Pillsbury Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls, because it makes it SO quick and easy! I used kitchen scissors to cut the unbaked rolls into quarters, then slid them on a paper straw cut in half. You can use lollipop sticks too!  Once they're baked, I dip them in caramel and roll them in nuts.  That's it!   I've done a few trial runs this week, and I can barely get them finished and on a plate before they are completely devoured.

Pecan Sticky Bun Bites | simplykierste.com

Pecan Sticky Bun Bites | simplykierste.com

Pecan Sticky Bun Bites
Recipe Type: Breakfast, Dessert
Author: Simply Kierste
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 32
Ingredients
  • 1 can Pillsbury Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
  • Wrapped caramels
  • 1-2 T. heavy cream or half and half
  • Chopped Pecans
  • Paper straws or lollipop sticks
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Open the can of cinnamon rolls, and use kitchen scissors to to cut each one into quarters. Slide one piece on each paper straw (cut in half) or lollipop stick, then lay them down on the cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool completely.
  4. While they're baking, unwrap your caramels and place in a glass bowl. Add about a tablespoon of heavy cream for every 30 or so caramels, and then melt in the microwave for about a minute. Stir, then continue for 10-15 seconds at a time until you can stir the caramel smooth. (You can also use the Caramel Bites, and follow package directions to melt them.)
  5. When the cinnamon rolls are cool, dip them in the caramel, then roll them in the chopped pecans.

I bought the Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls at Walmart, along with all of my other supplies, which made it so easy to get everything I needed.  Love that!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pillsbury. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Minted Holiday Cards & Giveaway | simplykierste.com

Minted Holiday Cards + $250 Giveaway!

This post contains affiliate links.

Tis' the season for spreading cheer by sending holiday cards to your friends and family! Minted has so many adorable choices for any kind of card you want to send--card size, number of photos, layout, colors, and more. I love that their cards are all designed by independent artists, and they have some of the most unique cards around.

Are you looking for super cute Christmas or holiday cards?  LOVE LOVE! And it's not too late to order cards to arrive by Christmas Eve (order by 3pm PT on 12/17)!  There's also a sale for 15% holiday cards through December 21st, just use the code WINTER15.

Minted Holiday Cards & Giveaway | simplykierste.com

Sometimes the hustle and bustle of Christmastime makes it easier to send cards for New Years instead, and Minted has you covered! (I've even sent Valentines' Day cards before! :) )

Minted New Years Cards | simplykierste.com

One of my favorite Minted products is their personalized gift wrap. It is SO cute! I love love the thought of having your very own wrapping paper with your family's name on it.

Minted Personalized Gift Wrap | simplykierste.com

You can also check out their Gift Guide and Wrapping Looks  for even more great ideas!

GUESS WHAT?? I've got a fabulous Minted giveaway for you today!  Not just one, but TWO lucky readers are going to win a $125 Minted gift card!!  Wahoo!!  All you need to do is click on the link below to enter.  Giveaway ends December 21st, 2015 at 11:59pm EST.  GOOD LUCK!!!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE!!!

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Outdoor Gifts at Gander Mountain + a GIVEAWAY!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gander Mountain. All opinions are 100% mine.

Our family loves being outdoors, in every season, and all weather.  We live in upstate New York, where the winter snow is plentiful, and we enjoy cross country skiing, tubing, sledding, and pretty much any snow activity.  Summers mean lots of camping, canoeing, kayaking, and adventuring. Hiking is a favorite activity from spring through summer and into fall, and exploring our area on foot is something we all enjoy.

That means that we love finding great deals at Christmastime on outdoor equipment, and this year snowshoes are on my list, plus backyard games, a tent that will fit all of us (okay, we have one, I just want a bigger one!), and a dutch oven.  Actually, my wish list is longer than that. :)  The rest of my family has their list too, and I have just the place to find what I need!

Gander Mountain is the place to go to find awesome deals, and with their new Best Price Plus program, they guarantee that their in-store shoppers are receiving the very best prices this season, PLUS a discount of 10 perfect of the difference!  If you find a lower price on an identical in-stock item at another local retailer, Gander Mountain will match the price either at the time of purchase, or within 30 days of you making the purchase in-store. You just can't beat that in my book!

In addtion, Gander Mountain has so many great Holiday Deals throughout the month of December. Outdoor gear and necessities, as well as special offers on financing and gift cards are all a part of their December plan to help you save money and find the perfect outdoor gifts!

And guess what...one lucky reader will win a $50 gift card to Gander Mountain!!!

Just follow the directions in the box below! Giveaway runs through December 15th, 11:59 EST. Make sure to read terms before entering.  GOOD LUCK!!

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Gift Wrapping with Scotch Holiday Tape | simplykierste.com

Wrapping it up with Scotch Holiday Tape!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 3M. All opinions are 100% mine.

Tis' the season for gifts and wrapping! Giving gifts is an integral and magical part of the holiday season, and it's so fun for me to make or find the perfect gift for the people in my life.  Whether it's for my family, teachers, neighbors, or friends, I love making packages look festive, and Scotch consistently comes through for me!  This time of year I head to Staples and stock up on my favorite tapes:  Scotch Magic TapeScotch Double Sided Tape and Scotch Expressions Tape.

Scotch Magic Tape is perfect for holding wrapping paper in place--it's strong and clear and stays just where I need it to be. I use Double Sided Tape to adhere printables or tags onto packages or gifts, and they're both my go-to products during the holiday season.  I've started wrapping up Christmas books for our annual Christmas book advent, and both of these tapes help me wrap them up just right!

So cute, right?  Thank goodness for Staples and Scotch Holiday Tape!

I also love love Scotch Expressions Tape--washi tapes that come in all kinds of great colors, and even glitter, which is perfect for the holidays! There's always a great selection at Staples, and they're in a main showcase making them super easy to find.

Washi tape can be used for so many things around the holidays, and one of my favorite ways to use it is to cutesify (that's a word, right??!!) a plain paper treat bag. I used the green stripes,  solid green, and silver to create a darling Christmas tree on this bag:

It completely changes the look of the bag, and it just took a few pieces of tape! Simple, so easy, and SUPER cute! Now it's perfect for gift-giving, after I add a few treats!

To keep track of all of my washi tape rolls, I adore the Expressions Multi Roll Dispenser. It's refillable and portable, making it super easy to store and use!

Make YOUR holidays magical with Scotch tape, and find everything you need at Staples! To find a store near you,look up your area with their Store Locator.

Happy wrapping!

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I'm going to be an author!! | simplykierste.com

Some exciting news…

I'm still pinching myself.

I'm sure the surreal feeling I have is going to last for a very long time, because whether I say it out loud or in my head it seems like there's no way it's really true.  But it is!

It's also the reason I've been posting a little less than usual, and why that will most likely be the case for the next few months.  It's been almost a week since my last post, and it's because I've been working like mad on my biggest project so far.

Here's a little hint...

I'm going to be an author!! | simplykierste.com

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Chicken Tortilla Soup | simplykierste.com

Chicken Tortilla Soup

It's soup season!  Hooray! I love to serve soup at least once a week--maybe more!  Crockpot soups are my favorite, because I can add all the ingredients in the morning, and then just serve it that night when very little additional prep.  It's a busy mom's best friend!

A friend shared this recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup years ago, and it's been at the top of my list ever since.  It's super yummy, and it's healthy, so it makes everyone happy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup | simplykierste.com

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Maple Nut Oat Scones | simplykierste.com

Maple Nut Oat Scones

today, sharing this YUMMY recipe! 

Loaded with hearty oats and pecans, then drizzled with a tasty maple glaze, these maple nut oat scones are sure to make any morning a little sweeter!

Maple Nut Oat Scones with maple glaze
I already have several awesome recipes for scones, but I love trying out new flavor variations. I am a big fan of scones with fruit and nuts, but my kiddos prefer a more plain scone. I like to pack them with a little nutrition, so this version is filled with fiber from whole wheat, oats, and nuts. My kids were none the wiser, and gobbled them up just as fast as a plate of doughnuts. Score!

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DIY Halloween frames | simplykierste.com

DIY Halloween picture frames

Hi, it's Jessica from Mommy Envy! Once September hits I like to pull out the Fall and Halloween decor. Fall is my favorite season and I feel like it never sticks around long enough. And winter is my least favorite so I try to make Fall last as long as possible.

My kids and I have been feeling a little cooped up this week. We typically walk every morning but I have a knee injury and haven't felt like walking much. With a few left over supplies from other projects my oldest and I put together these fun DIY Halloween Picture Frames.

Halloween DIY picture holders for simplykierste.com

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Banana Split Brownie Ice Cream | simplykierste.com

Banana Split Brownie Ice Cream

I am a big fan of banana splits and the more toppings the better! This no churn banana split brownie recipe is one of my favorite recipes yet and I am so excited to share it with you today!

I delicious and creamy no church ice cream recipe.

My name is Jes and I blog over at Mommy Envy, I am so excited to be back again this month sharing this recipe with you! Now that I've discovered no churn ice cream I don't know if I will ever go back. I've never had luck with ice cream machines, mainly because I like too many toppings. And I love that I get to make up my own flavors! I've contemplated this recipe for a while now and I finally made it just for you!

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School Shoes for Kids | simplykierste.com

First-day-of-school outfits with Rack Room Shoes!

This post is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. All opinions are 100% mine and mine alone.

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It's almost time for school to start!  Can you just smell the newly sharpened pencils? I love this time of year, and shopping with my kids for all of their school supplies, including their first-day-of-school outfits!  Do you remember choosing your outfit for the first day?  Oh, the memories!  In my day it was ESPRIT bags and Guess jeans and Birkenstocks, which totally tells you I'm a child of the 80's and 90's! As a mom, those first day outfits are still important, because my kids love them too!

School shoes are a really important part of that first day, and the whole year. Our elementary school requires that they wear sneakers every day, so they're #1 on my list. For my girls, I'm looking for shoes that will look cute with both jeans and skirts, and for all of them, shoes that are high-quality and will last through the every day wear and tear.

Enter in Rack Room Shoes! They carry all the top brands that I love and look for when Back-to-School shopping, including Nike, Skechers, Vans and Converse. I found the cutest shoes in styles and brands that are on-trend, and will look great with everything they wear!

School Shoes for Kids | simplykierste.com

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Lunchbox Laughs | simplykierste.com

Lunchbox laughs!

Hi everyone! So happy to be back with you this month to share another free printable with you. I'm Kiki from Kiki and Company and I am starting to gear up for the beginning of school. One of my favorite things to do each year is to leave Lunchbox Laughs in my kiddos lunch or backpack with a little note on the back to remind them how much I love them while they are away from me. Today I came up with a fun little sheet of laughs for our littles this year!

BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCHBOX LAUGHS

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Blueberry Dump Cake | simplykierste.com

Blueberry dump cake

Kara, from Creations by Kara, is sharing this delicious Bluberry Dump Cake recipe today!

Easy Blueberry Cobbler

If you live in an area where you can grow your own blueberries, I am insanely jealous. I love them so very much, but since they don't grow in my area, they cost a small fortune. I buy them whenever they go on sale. I bought a pint last week, then we ended up going out of town before they all got eaten. When we got back they weren't fresh enough for salad, so I decided to use them for baking.
blueberry-dump-cake

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Dinner made easy with Newman's Own | simplykierste.com

Making dinner easy with Newman’s Own

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Newman's Own. All opinions are 100% mine.

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My kids love to "dip".  Pretty much everything, actually.  We always have a bottle of ranch dressing in our refrigerator, and there's house-wide panic if it starts to get too low.

One of our favorite dressings is Newman's Own, and not only does it come in Ranch, but Balsamic, Olive Oil & Vinegar, Family Recipe Italian, Creamy Caesar and more.

As a mom, I love how simple salad dressings are to implement into dinners. It's how I get my kids to eat most veggies, but it definitely doesn't end there, because there are so many things that are dippable! Salad dressings make perfect dips, because they're already made--just pull them out of the fridge and serve!

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Puddle Jumpers | simplykierste.com

My favorite way to keep kids safe in the water: Puddle Jumpers!

 This post brought to you by Stearns Puddle Jumpers®. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Simply Kierste.

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All of my children enjoy being in the water, but one in particular would actually live in it if he could, and has absolutely loved it since he was tiny.  At that young age, he also had no fear (still doesn't), and none of the ramifications that came with it (including nearly giving me a heart attack on more than occasion).  From early on, I knew I needed to find a flotation device that would not only keep him safe, but allow him to enjoy the water he loved so much.

I remember the first time I saw a Stearns Puddle Jumper.  We were at the pool, and I saw a child wearing one. I thought it could be the answer, and I practically chased the poor mom down to interrogate her about what it was, what it did, and where I could get it.  I went straight home to buy it, and they've been a part of our summers ever since.

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You WORM my heart...a funny Mother's Day printable | simplykierste.com

You WORM my heart…a funny Mother’s Day printable

Mother's Day doesn't have to be all about flowers, chocolates and breakfast in bed. I love to have fun with my boys and that is thanks enough! This funny Mother's Day free printable gift tag fits our personalities perfectly.

Funny Mother's Day Free Printable Gift Tag

I am a mother to two amazing little boys! As much as I love the idea of flowers, chocolates and breakfast in bed the best part about mother's day is the fact that those two adorable boys are the reason I am a mom.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING!!! XO