Hooray! We are making progress! Our property will hopefully close in the next week, and the final touches are being made to the plans. We will be building on nine beautiful acres in upstate New York, at the bottom of the Appalachian Mountains. It's wooded, with a perfect meadow for the house to sit, and a tree-covered hill in the back. We've got plans galore, and I'm just so excited to get started.
I'm also excited about the "Building Old Salt Farm" series that I'll be doing during the duration of the building. I'll be sharing the entire building process, along with things that I've learned along the way. I've been waiting to really begin this series until we were closer to building, and I think now's the right time!For the first post, let's start at the beginning...how to select a building lot. Where you build is just as important as what you build, and I'm sharing some things you may want to consider as you're selecting the perfect place for your new home.
One of our favorite family games is called "Don't Eat Pete". We love to play it on Family Night, which we have once a week on Monday evenings. It's a very simple but super fun game, and my kids especially love that they get candy. (Or mini marshmallows if I don't have any candy on hand!) This week I'm helping with one of my kindergartner's Valentine's Day party, and I knew this would be a perfect Valentine's Day game!
Can I tell you how much my kids love snacks? Whether it's choosing them for their school lunches, raiding the pantry after school, or taking them on the go, they pretty much love them for every reason and in lots of different forms. Around the holidays I like to come up with fun & easy snacks that make snack time a little more festive, and Cupid Crunch Trail Mix is a favorite for Valentine's Day!
At our house, we like ice cream pretty much any way it can be served, but one of our very favorites is an ice cream float. There are so many yummy flavors that we love, but the lovely pink and white Cherry Vanilla Float is perfect with Valentine's Day right around the corner!
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!
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!
Our family should buy stock in our favorite peanut butter company, because it's ridiculous how much we go through. You know those giant containers you can buy at warehouse stores? We can go through one of those in a week! Needless to say, any kind of peanut butter recipe is super popular at our house, and this Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake is a sure winner.
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.
Today was a snowy winter day, and it was the perfect day to whip up a batch of my favorite Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are decadently rich, chock full of chocolate chips, and basically melt in your mouth.
I love packaging gifts in a way that's simple, inexpensive, but totally adorable. This darling Valentine's Day Gift Idea is all of those things, and it's perfect for giving to anyone on your gift-giving list this Valentine's Day.
Any excuse I can get to combine three things that I love--milk bottles, chocolate, and baker's twine--I take full advantage of it. These Valentine treat jars do just that, and they're the most darling way to tell someone "you're sweet". They're super easy to make, and the peek-a-boo heart is absolutely adorable!
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!
I can never resist a really cute serving platter, but when you add adorable little thumbprints, there really is nothing cuter! I absolutely adore my Heart Thumbprint Platter, and it makes me happy every time I look at it!
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.
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.
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...
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!
Does New Year's Eve sneak up on anyone else? It comes so quickly after Christmas, that it seems we don't ever quite get out of party mode! It's such a fun night, filled with friends, family, food, and at our house, football. But...here's the deal. Because it is so close to Christmas, I'm all about simple, simple, simple. I like cute & fun ideas that are easy to execute and implement. I was on the hunt this week for New Year's Eve ideas, and found several things that I loved, and thought I would pass them along to you!
Hello everyone! I hope you had a wonderfully merry Christmas with your family and friends! We've had such a lovely holiday, and received such thoughtful gifts from family and friends. On our list this week is sending thank you letters, and I created some adorable Christmas thank you stationery for my kids to use. They love having a fun template, and I wanted to share it with all of you too!
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!
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.
- 1 can Pillsbury Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
- Wrapped caramels
- 1-2 T. heavy cream or half and half
- Chopped Pecans
- Paper straws or lollipop sticks
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray.
- 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.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool completely.
- 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.)
- 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.
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.
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! :) )
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.
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!!!