Saturday, February 27, 2010

Help Haiti Live...TONIGHT!

Here is just one more reason I wish I lived in Nashville! Tonight many amazing artists are gathering to help raise money for the people in Haiti. My heart is still overwhelmed with all that these people must have gone through during this time. Some of my all time favorite artists are going to be performing tonight...
Alison Krauss- Just simply love her and I especially love that she sat right behind me at church a few weeks ago when I was visiting another Simple Girl in TN!
Jars of Clay- I remember the first time I heard their music and I was hooked. The song Love Song for a Savior gets me every time.
Mat Kearney- Friends, if you have not checked this guy out...go right now to iTunes and buy his albums!
Matt Wertz, Brandon Heath and Dave Barnes- need I say more!
So even if you don't find yourself in Nashville tonight, you can still tune in to this amazing event to raise money for such a great cause. Check it out online at at 7:30.
Sounds like a pretty good Saturday night to me!
Happy Weekend!

I'm an Organizing Junkie...

...but you'd never know it if you'd seen my guest room a week ago! Let me explain...

About 3 months ago, our guest room became our junk room. In the winter, we use the gas logs in our living room as our main heat source to cut down on heating costs. Because we don't have guests all that often during the winter months, we close the heating vent and door to the guest room so that we're not heating unused space. So, not only is that room about 15-20 degrees colder than the rest of the house, it's also the place where things get dumped. After all, I'm not about to go spend any length of time in there to put things away!

Over at I'm an Organizing Junkie, there's a 28 day organizing challenge going on for the month of February. There are some prizes and stuff, but I simply used my "enough is enough" mentality to motivate me to sign up. Here we are at the end of the month and I'm proud to say that our guest room is officially a guest room again!

Over the past couple of months, I've been doing some serious purging in order to create a simpler environment and also to get ready for an upcoming yard sale. I didn't have enough boxes to store all of the "get rid of" things, so our once somewhat inviting guest room became this...
It's can cringe (I did every time I opened the door to throw something else in there!). Those big piles are yard sale/to be put away/don't know what to do with you items...and yes, there are even some Christmas boxes and decorations still couped up in that room. Ugh. I knew it was pretty bad, but when my husband walked by one day when I had the door open to throw something on the pile, his I didn't know it was THAT bad! remark confirmed my deepest fears!

So, after acquiring some boxes, I began the daunting task of battling the piles (and the cold!) in order to restore some sanity in this room. You can kinda see that the room had some pretty good 'bones' already...decent furniture, nice curtains and linens and tons of organizational containers. After about 3 hours of boxing up, dusting, organizing and cleaning, that horrendous mess turned into this...

A little more inviting, huh?

I didn't get a chance to paint and I need a few more photos or artwork to complete the space, but I'm extremely pleased with the results! A few candles, photos of friends and family, magazines and extra towels make this room super cozy. This is finally a room that I'd be comfortable inviting guests to stay in.

Here are some alternate before and after views from the 4 corners of the room.






Now, we come to the closet. Before the guest room became a junk room, this closet became the place to dump things and shut the door so no once can see them". Then, the closet overflowed know the rest of the story. Here's a glimpse at the before:

And thanks to some old bins, boxes and space bags (storing extra pillows under the bed!), here's the after:

I've stored like linens in containers (twin sheets, duvets, etc), have all of my gift wrapping items stored according to type (extra gift boxes, tissue paper and gift bags and a gift wrap container back in the corner of the closet) and there are a couple of crates on the bottom shelves that contain items purchased to give as gifts.

No, it's not my most spectacular organizing transformation ever, but for a few hours of work and no additional money spent, I'd say I pulled it off!

Here are some questions posed by the gals over at I'm an Organizing Junkie to help summarize the whole experience.

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?

The hardest part, for me, was getting started. I knew it was going to be a huge project and I had a hard time finding the motivation to get going. Obviously, I was able to overcome it...thanks to some help from Diet Coke and the new Lady Antebellum album :)

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?

I was able to implement containers for like items...such as like linens, gift boxes, guest towels, etc. After purging a great deal of things, I was able to store most of the rooms extra items in the closet...and was still able to shut the door!

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

I have about 10 boxes of items ready to be sorted and priced for a spring yard sale! I love when organizing projects yield money!

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?

I used an old white plastic shelving unit in the closet. With a closet rod and simple eye level shelf, the closet doesn't lend itself to storage of any sort (except clothes!). By adding the shelf, I was able to create multiple levels of storage. In using the containers to store linens and gift wrapping/giving supplies, I'm able to have a set boundary for how many of each item to keep on hand. When the bins get full, something's gotta go! Overall, I believe keeping the main surfaces and floor space of the room clear, will allow me to see any little thing that's out of place and cause me to take immediate action.

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?

I believe I was able to clearly define the space for its intended purpose (a guest room) and create adequate storage for items overflowing from other areas of the house (such as linens, gift wrapping, etc). The room is well organized, allows for easy up keep and is, overall, a welcoming space.


Monday, February 22, 2010

I'll Drink to That

Recently we hosted a Mexican-inspired shower for some friends. Our small group served up a taco bar, which worked out great especially since it was a co-ed affair.

Or in the words of our home's heroine, Dora the Explorer... it was delicioso!

The big hit of the night, though, seemed to be the punch. When I spotted this recipe over on the LPM blog, I knew it would fit the coffee loving dad and mom-to-be. I didn't know, however, that all the other guests would be joking that they wanted to attach a handle to the punch bowl and turn it up!

Not to mention, except that I am, I got my mismatched set of punch glasses for a dime a piece at a new thrifty favorite. They are lovely! Perhaps they deserve their own post...

But back to the drink itself... :)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant coffee granules
1 cup of boiling water
8 cups of milk
Chocolate and vanilla ice-cream to taste (about 1 quart or more total)
*I doubled this recipe for what you see above.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and coffee. Stir in boiling water until dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Just before serving, pour coffee mixture into a one gallon punch bowl. Stir in milk and add ice-cream until melted. That simple.

Yummy compliments...
Chocolate covered frozen bananas and pineapple upside down cupcakes.

Yep, delicioso!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bedtime Antics


Oh, I'm sorry, I guess some of us might need more of an explanation. Yet, I'm betting for the rest of you I had you at the word...

toddlers. :)

At about two and a half our usually great sleeping oldest started climbing out of the crib, forewent her paci, and decided that day time naps are completely overrated.

She also started doing experiential research for her new book, "1,001 Ways to Stall Bedtime." I expect that many of your precious children could help her co-write it?

Truth is, she may not need to nap every single day but she does need the down time. So when my sister-in-law sent us a most fabulous gift of hand-me-downs in the mail, my wheels started turning.

Introducing... the rest time bucket:

Every day and only at rest time I deliver this bucket into some eager little hands. Inside I have the gifts of books on CD and other fun, quiet activities like a wooden Madeline dress up doll. To that stash I added another book on CD or tape checked out from the library.

Now I've worked with and had children long enough to know that once the novelty is gone, well, it's gone. Our plan is to only put a couple of books and/or activities in there every few days so we can keep them on a rotation. Plus spicing it up with various check-outs from the library can help.

The rules are simple: As long as she stays in her room, with the exception of needing to potty- straight there and back, she gets to keep her rest time bucket.

So far she is l-o-v-i-n-g it and has managed to actually catch some zzz's too!

Another little trick I've discovered is a bucket of videos just before rest time. The "1" reminds her that she can pick just one 30-minute video to watch to help her transition over to rest time. That also gives me a half hour to read to and work with my youngest before she goes down for a nap.

See all those red dots? The ones that weren't hand-me-downs came from the 10-50 cent racks of Goodwill and the like. That's what I call cheap entertainment.

As for reason number fifteen or so... "Mommy, I just need to give you one more hug and kiss"... really, will I ever be able to resist?

I hardly think so.

Any of you experience success with an idea or two?? Please share!

You never know when the novelty just might wear off. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine Wish for You...

~Brooke, Sarai, and Katrina

Friday, February 12, 2010

A little love...

Need a quick and FREE idea for that someone special on Valentine's Day? Head over to Walgreens and take advantage of the free 8 x 10 photo collage offer. This offer is only good today, so hurry over! Use code VDAY when you checkout!
You can also get 25 free prints when you order 25 prints for the month of February. Use code LOVE10 at checkout!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rewind: Zoo Party

... or "pawty," as my used to be two-year-old used to say.


While posting some pics of her third birthday party, I had visions of that party animal welcoming her guests just about twelve months earlier.

Since winter birthdays can sometimes be a challenge, I thought maybe some of you might face the same dilemma. You know, no pools or parks or pretty much outside anythings.

What's a Mama to do?

Well, we combined the birthday girl's love for animals with my love for creating with that little girl on a budget... hope you enjoy our walk on the wild side!

The windy weather had us move the easel indoors, which directed the guests where to go. They each got to pick an animal to be for the afternoon... raaaar! (Masks from Oriental Trading Company).

Grazing Table...
This was a fun way to do the party food! We picked animals like zebras who eat haystacks (pictured), elephants who eat peanuts (those crazy, big circus ones), monkeys who eat bananas, bears who eat fish (goldfish crackers), lions who eat animals (the cracker kind), and giraffes who eat trees (marshmallows rolled in marshmallow cream and green rice krispies... stuck on pretzel rods for the trunks!) We also had green punch or as we called it... "Jungle Juice."

Dessert was homemade vanilla cupcakes with teddy grahams sprinkled on top. It was also accompanied by a simple sign... :)
Wildlife adventures...
Games and activities were at different stations upstairs each manned (girled?) by Aunties Brooke, Sarai, and Marcie. "Pin the Trunk on the Elephant" was especially fun since my daughter got to sponge paint that one mostly by herself. "Feed the Seal" was just three buckets in a spread out row with a fish covered bean bag to use for throwing.

Though no pictures, they were probably the biggest hit of the party. A dear friend made cd's of animal songs that even the parents raved about way after the party happened. From the rap version of "Pop Goes the Weasel" and Carly Simon's "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to the funky take on "Five Little Monkeys" and "Rockin' Robin"... that cd is still requested by our girls all the time! We wrapped one up for each party guest in cheetah print bags from the Hobby Lobby.

Extra Tid Bits...
A couple yards of animal print fabric and tissue paper were cost effective decorating tools from the Hobby Lobby. We stuck to mostly cheetah and zebra designs. Black plates, gold napkins, and black posterboard from the Dollar Store were other buys. As for the rest of the decor, I used clip art from my computer along with grasses, vines, etc. from our backyard!

If you have an animal lover in the house or a winter birthday to plan... maybe this can help? It was super affordable and enjoyable... except for the birthday girl sneaking too many of those orange peanut concoctions.

Another post for another day. :)


Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Day Reads for Kids (and adults too!)

Valentine's Day is a pretty exciting holiday in the elementary school. Valentines cards, math with conversation hearts, specials snacks and just celebrating the friendships we have grown in our classroom. Lots of fun things to do and celebrate over the next week. One thing I love is sharing books with my class. Even though I am teaching older kids this year, I still love to share picture book favorites with them. Here is a short list of some of my Valentine's Day favorites. Maybe you can find a little valentine to share them with over this week...

Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
Check out Storyline Online. This great website showcases several children's books being read by celebrities. The website includes, Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch read by Hector Elizondo. Here are some activities that go along with the book as well.

Today is Valentine's Day by PK Hallinan

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (I also like to read this book at the beginning of the school year)
There are a ton of activities and websites out there for this book. Here are a few things you might want to check out as you share this book with your favorite valentine.

Printables, vocabulary words and more

Lots of ideas not only for Valentine's Day but others too

If You'll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant

A video of a librarian sharing this story to readers, includes close-ups of the illustrations

Valentine's Day crafts and coloring pages and more

I Love You the Purplest by Barbara Joosse

It's Valentine's Day by Jack Prelutsky

Happy Heart Day!

ps... Keep scrolling below for more of the past weekend's lovely ideas and tips.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Welcome Mat ReDo

Most of us are experiencing winter weather like crazy these days. This kind of weather makes me want to do 1 of 2 things:

*Curl up on the couch and do nothing.
*Redecorate and reorganize the whole house.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling a little of the latter coming on and decided that I'd tackle a small project during an afternoon. During this particular afternoon, it was sunny (gasp!) and above 50 degrees (gasp again!), so I felt like doing something kinda spring-ish.

A few years ago, we bought a welcome mat for our main entrance. It was all cute with flowers and bright and colorful and it was made from recycled materials which meant it was eco-friendly and it would last for a long time...oh and it was on sale! Perfect! However, like most things that get a lot of foot traffic, it began to show signs of wear and our once cute and colorful mat all of a sudden looked like this:

So, I decided to give it a little face lift. I used a couple of small paint brushes, some craft paint and turned it into this:

We wondered if it would wear off quickly, but so far, it's showing no signs of wear! And the recycled welcome mat lives on!


Linking this project up here:


ps... Be sure to scroll down for more of this weekend's lovely tips and ideas! :)

Fruity Pizza

If you have about ten minutes, we promise you won't regret it! :)

*A couple of large regular or whole wheat tortillas
*About 1/4 cup melted butter
*A couple teaspoons of sugar (white or brown)
*About a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon
*About 1/4 cup of raspberry or strawberry jam/preserves
*A handful of milk or white chocolate (chips or grated off the block)
*Several fresh strawberries
*Enough powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Use heart cookie cutters to create heart shapes out of the tortillas. Brush a little butter evenly onto them all.
3. Sprinkle sugar on the hearts and dust with cinnamon.
4. Bake for three minutes until light golden brown and remove from oven.
5. Spread the jam on the tortillas and then sprinkle with chocolate.
6. Bake again for two minutes. Remove and add sliced strawberries and powdered sugar.
7. Serve warm or cooled.


*adapted from Kiwi magazine
ps... Be sure to scroll down for more of this weekend's lovely tips and ideas! :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Save the Brownies!!!

While Brooke might be a fan of cooking up some comfort food during bouts of winter weather, I'm all about baking...and the more chocolate involved, the better!

I bake brownies at least once a month it seems (at least that's what my scales tell me!) and have always had such a horrible time getting them from the pan to a platter without turning them to a pile of crumbs! Well, I've recently learned a super simple trick that helps with this process. Are you ready for this?

Use a plastic knife to cut the brownies!
(I know a picture isn't necessary for you to get this concept. You're smart gals, you can figure it out. But I just couldn't resist...look at those yummy squares of goodness! Don't you just want to eat one?!?!)

Anyway, I've started keeping plastic knives on hand JUST for this purpose! It's easy and it won't scratch your non-stick pans! This little trick works not only for brownies, but also for cookie bars and fudge and all kinds of yummy treats!

So, go ahead and bake up some yummy Valentine's Day brownies (as if you needed a holiday for an excuse!) just so you can try this out! Enjoy!


ps... Be sure to scroll down for more of this weekend's lovely tips and ideas! :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Love Letters

We want our kids to begin to understand just how deep and wide and extravagant God's love is for all of us. How better to tell them than through His word and just before a celebration of that beautiful word itself?

So grab some envelopes, paper and pen or keyboard and printer, tiny treats (one per day/per child), maybe even some pretty paper and scissors and glue... we're going on an advent type of scavenger hunt.

Simply put, just copy and paste (or hand write) the verses below onto paper and slip them individually into envelopes. I did seven so we could start on Monday and end on V-Day. Decorate as much or as little as you'd like. Then each day have a little scavenger hunt to see who can find His love letter to the family.

Adapted Verses for Little Ones:
*I am love.
1 John 4:8

*Love each other as family and honor others above yourself.
Romans 12:10

*Walk in love as Jesus loves you and gave His life for you.
Ephesians 5:2

*Little children, let us love for real. Let us love in truth and with all that we do.
1 John 3:18

*How precious is my never stopping love! You are safe and can trust in me.
Psalm 36:7

*I want you to know the best way. Love is the best way of all!
1 Corinthians 12:31

*Love each other just like I love you.
John 13:34


ps... Be sure to scroll down for more of this weekend's lovely tips and ideas! :)

Valentine's Weekend

Though we know that February 14th is actually next weekend, we thought it might be fun to pull together a couple of fast and easy ways to celebrate love throughout this weekend. Just like using everyday items... ribbon, twine, construction paper, tin cups, and the like... to make a few simple holiday touches.

So as the wet, wintry mix continues to fall around our parts... and maybe where you are... hope you are able to check back in from time to time over the next few days for a variety of lovely projects and tips (in fact, starting this evening!) Also hope you are able to get some extra warm snuggles from someone you love.

~Katrina for Brooke and Sarai too :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snow Day Comfort

It has been a Winter Wonderland here in good ole' North Carolina for the past week and it seems that more is headed our way. When I am stuck in the house, I tend to like to cook some real comfort food. Although I did not fix this casserole for this most recent snowed in weekend, I think I might have to make a quick stop at the grocery store for the ingredients for this weekends icy mess. So whether you are snowed in like me, need a quick and yummy recipe for the weekend or just like to try new things, I hope you enjoy! I am aware that a lot of you are probably familiar with this recipe, but if not, you really have to give it a try!

Poppy seed Chicken


2 or 3 chicken breasts, boiled and cut into small pieces

1 16 oz. container of Sour Cream

2 cans of Cream of Chicken soup

2 tablespoons of poppy seeds ( or more, I tend to like to load them in)

Ritz Crackers

1 stick of butter

Mix the first 4 ingredients and put in a baking dish. Cover with crushed Ritz Crackers. Melt the stick of butter and pour on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350.

Enjoy and stay warm!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mailbox Mayhem?

*Welcome, all those popping over from We are That Family and "Works for Me Wednesday." Glad to have you here at Three Simple Girls!

It's barely past the official start of the New Year, right? Anyone else still feeling the need to solve some of the little problems that add up to big fat messes?

Hope so!

This would be why me and my $20 shelving unit are pretty tight right now. Because with visions of my three, three and under in a few short months a person has to get it all together.

Or something. :)

I placed the unit right in the corner of our mudroom where we enter and exit the house. My goal is to sort on my way in, and shred/toss/file at the end of each week... or month, if I'm being realistic.

I'm a terrible liar.

The thing will probably get emptied when the baskets are full. The point is... they will be empty at some point in their lives. The convenient containers make it easy to transport what I need to get the job done. And the whole thing doesn't take up much room at all, which is a bonus indeed.

Our labels read:
*Stamps, Etc.
*To Be Filed
*Addresses and Envelopes

Works for me...

Hopefully so! :)


ps... Sorry about the last post going MIA. Ick! :( Since there's not time to recreate it, here are the links.

*Meal/Grocery Planning:

*Trail Mix-Ins:

*Healthy Muffin Recipes:

*Smoothie Ideas:

*BPA-Free Lunch Containers:

Related Posts with Thumbnails