Simply Sweet Home

Recipes, Decor, Crafts, Product Reviews, Giveaways and more.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Organizing Round-Up: Surfaces & Shelves

Organizing Blog

Here is my entry for this month's Organizing Round-Up. This month's project was shelves and surfaces. I had orginally planned to organize all my bookshelves, but I just couldn't quite get around to it. So I did a few mini-projects instead. Actually mine involved in little more de-cluttering & tidying up than organizing, but I guess it all counts. Sorry I didn't get the before pictures of everything, but I'm sure you'll get the idea.

I did a big clean up of our small bathroom last weekend. This is the over-the-toilet organizer we have. Originally the wash rags were stacked inside the cabinet, and the top shelf was lined with a bunch of stuff like contact solution, dental floss, make-up, and hubby's shaving stuff. It was a mess! I removed all the items and placed them in the cabinet or in the basket on the bottom shelf. Now it looks a lot neater, and we don't have to worry about stuff falling into the toilet.

I like placing small items in a container of some sort. It makes things look a lot neater. I bought a set of 3 little red baskets at the Dollar Tree and was able to put them to good use on my surfaces. The first basket is in our big bathroom near the sink. I have a set of drawers that I was placing my jewelry on, but it was too easy to knock it off in the floor, and after a while I tend to get a few items there, so it looks messy. So my solution was to place this basket here. It will save the jewelry from falling in the floor; plus it helps it too look as though it belongs there. And after a while, I can just pick up the whole basket and put everything away.

The second basket was placed on my dresser. Our house doesn't have a lot of storage space, so I decided to place my perfume bottles on the dresser. (It's also a good to have them there, because I'll see them there and actually remember to put on the perfume.) But I hate having a bunch bottles laying around. Somehow containing them in the little red basket, helps my brain to tolerate them and it makes the space look a little neater.

The third red basket is being used at my kitchen sink. And as you can see, I'm using it to hold my sponge, scrubber, and drain-stopper. This small thing is a huge improvement not only because it contains the stuff and makes it look less cluttered, but because it helps to keep the actual counter top and sink clean, because any excess water and soap is on the bottom of the basket rather than making spots and rings on the sink and counter.

I also organized these lotions and body sprays that were on my dresser into a basket. Here's a before picture:

And here's an after pic:

And finally the thing that actually took a bit of time: The Clothes Dryer. I've been using the dryer to lay out my beads and jewelry tools and projects. I lay them out here because it's the only place where I can guarantee my cats won't get to them.

And I try to clean up after I get done working, but sometimes I quit abruptly or right in the middle of a project, and stuff tends to get left out, as you can see here:

I worked for quite a while to get all my stuff re-organized. My beads are in little plastic organizers that I've placed in a drawer, and all my finished products are stored there as well. And all my charms/findings/tools/etc. have been re-organized in this little caboodle from yester-year.
Now that's definitely a lot neater! My goal is to keep it this way!

Stop by Org Junkie to see all the other organizing projects at the round-up.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Organizing & Cleaning Tips for Surfaces & Shelves

The key to keeping shelves and surfaces clean is to simplify, that is, keep only a very few important items out on your surfaces. Then clean your surfaces thoroughly and place your items in a location that is logical but also makes the space more aesthetically pleasing and inviting. And if possible keep loose items in jars, baskets, or other containers so that they are accessible but hidden. Here are a few other tips that might be helpful to you.

Kitchen & Bathroom Surfaces:
-Keep counters as clear as possible, keeping out only items that you use every day, such as a coffee maker or can opener.
-Do daily maintenance on counters and surfaces, removing "stray" items that don't belong and wiping down surfaces.
-If you're low on cabinet space, a bread box is great place to store snacks or even extra appliances that you'd like to have handy but keep hidden.
-Use baskets or containers to store items more neatly on surfaces. Jars and decorative glass bowls are also great for storing items on top of surfaces, while still maintaining a neat looking surface.
-For quick bathroom organization, mini plastic drawers are great for make-up, jewelry, and hair accessories, as well as creams and ointments. And they fit nicely on counters and on over-the-toilet organizer shelves.
-To maintain a neat bathroom, do daily maintenance, wiping down the counter and sink each morning after getting ready or before going to bed. And keep very few items out on the sink or vanity.

Kids Stuff, Crafts, & Office
-A bookshelf is a great place not only to organize books but also arts & craft supplies. Place small pieces in small plastic containers or drawers. Then place these on your shelf. The same concept can be used with a simple wall shelf. Place containers on the shelf and hang the shelf over your desk or crafting area for easy access to supplies.
-The above idea is also great for kids stuff. Legos, blocks, doll accessories, and other small pieces can easily be stored away in small containers and then placed on a shelf.
-To keep your desk or crafting area clean, do daily maintenance. Clean up after each daily session. And place all items from a current craft project you're still working on in a container or on a tray for easy removal/clean up.
-To maintain a clean office and desk, it's best to keep only a few important items and supplies out. Anything that you do not use on a daily basis should be stored away in a drawer or container.
-Organizers are very helpful in maintaining a clean desk. I have a pen and pencil holder that has 4 extra compartments for paper clips, rubberbands and small items. I also have a desk lamp that has compartments in its base for pens, post-it notes, and other supplies. And I have an office organizer that holds note pads/papers/envelopes/supplies.
-It's also helpful to have paper trays or an organizer to hold file folders and other documents you're working on. Having a place to store these is crucial to keeping a paper-clutter-free desk.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Country Fried Steak & Gravy

When I was a kid, Country Fried Steak was one of my favorite thing to eat. Most of the time we eat this with mashed potatoes, peas, and biscuits. But it would be great with anything. It's also wonderful to eat for breakfast with eggs, biscuits, and hashbrowns. Yum!

Today I'm sharing how to make the meat and the gravy. We always ate this with white gravy when I was a kid. I don't really make the gravy much now, because my husband doesn't eat it, (hence no pic of the gravy), but it's really good either way. You may also like it with brown gravy, which is especially yummy on mashed potatoes.

Recipe for Country Fried Steak & Gravy
4 (4 ounce) cube steaks (you can also use hamburger)
1/2 teaspoon salt or garlic salt, divided
1 3/4 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup oil (enough so that you have about an 1/4 inch of oil in skillet)
1 cup milk

Season meat with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper; set aside. In a shallow dish, mix flour with 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Dredge each steak in flour. Dip in beaten egg, then dredge in flour again.
Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Fry steaks 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the dredging flour into oil. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of skillet. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until thickened and bubbly. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons pepper; gravy should be quite peppery.

Tips & Suggestions:
This would also be a great recipe to use with chicken or pork chops.
If you like shortcuts, in the seasonings section, they have gravy mixes in the white or brown.



I'm posting a link to this post on the following sites:
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday is hosted by Blessed With Grace.
Homemaker Mondays is hosted by
11th Heaven’s Homemade Haven.
Making A Happy Home Monday is hosted by
As For Me and My House….
Make Something Monday is hosted by Go Graham Go! and Jolly Mom and Diana Rambles.
Tasty Tuesday is hosted by Balancing Beauty & Bedlam.

I Am Blissfully Domestic is hosted by Blissfully Domestic.
Ultimate Recipe is Swap is hosted by Life as Mom.

Friday Feasts is hosted by Momtrends.
Works for Me Wednesday is hosted by We Are THAT Family

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Menu Plan Monday for May 25

Breakfasts: cereal, waffles, french toast sticks, monkey bread
Lunches: chicken fingers, grilled chicken salad, bacon & egg sandwiches, hot dogs

Monday - Cookout
Tuesday -Leftovers from last week
Wednesday - Crispy Chicken Sandwiches
Thursday - Chicken Tortilla from freezer
Friday - Crock Pot Roast Chicken, carrots, potatoes
Saturday -Chicken & Rice w/ broccoli
Sunday - Leftovers

Visit Org Junkie for more menus and recipes.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Find

Meet my newest sponsor, Happy Find, where you're sure to find a little bit of happiness!

This shop is owned and operated by Venus, who's a mother of two. Venus carries a lovely line of of fashionable headbands that are made with 100% cotton and feature hand stamped graphics and sterling silver and copper findings.

She's also pleased to offer an array of beautiful handmade aprons for adults and children. Venus calls them "a good balance of functionality and beauty." And I think you'll agree!

The aprons are made with pre-washed cotton, and they are lined and have pockets. They also come in a variety of colors, fabrics, designs, and styles. These are so lovely, you have to see to believe!

My favorites are the darling, Americana Mama, Americana Mama, Pt 2, and head in the clouds.

Go check out the Happy Find shop and blog today! You'll be happy you did!


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Are you on board the hand stamped jewelry bandwagon yet? I am absolutely in love with this jewelry. It's so creative, unique, and personal. And I love that you can where it with any outfit and for any occasion.

So I'm very excited to introduce my newest sponsor RHB Designs. RHB Designs specializes in --you guessed it-- hand stamped jewelry! This shop is owned by a stay at home mom of two named Rosalynn.

Rosalynn offers gorgeous hand stamped jewelry that is both meaningful and affordable. She carries copper and silver pendants paired with charms, swarovski crystals, pearls, and other lovely embellishments.

Her necklaces can be personalized with a meaningful phrase or names of your family members. And if you're not in to the personalized stuff, she has a number of other designs with words and phrases that I'm sure you'll love. There is literally something for everyone here!

I personally love all the items in Rosalynn's shop, but if I had a to pick a few favorites I'd choose The Family Circle Birthstone Necklace, the Family Ties Necklace, the Sweetheart Necklace, and the Goodnight Moon Necklace.

Each item comes in a gift box with a ribbon, so it's ready for gift giving. And you even get a small polishing cloth with your order and a gift tag on request.

Here are links to the RHB Designs shop and blog. Please take a moment to visit and support this wonderful etsy shop!


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Following Simply Sweet Home on Facebook and Twitter

First off, a couple of weeks ago my blogger follower list reached over 100 followers. Yay! So thanks to everyone who follows my blog, and another big thanks to those of you who subscribe through Feedblitz or Feedburner, and everyone who follows on Twitter. It's so great to see everyone taking an interest in my little site.

For the past year and a half I've signed up on a number of networking sites. In my sidebar you'll find links to all my profiles on these sites. Unfortunately I can't update them all the time. Over the last few months I've done the majority of my updates on Twitter. I was using Digg a lot too, but I've gotten out of the habit. I update the twitter page more frequently because it takes very little time. If you're not a follower on Twitter, I'd love for you to become one: Here's a link to my page Simply Sweet Home on Twitter

Also, I finally got around to creating a Facebook page for Simply Sweet Home. I've had a personal profile on Facebook for over two years, but I only allow views to people I know personally, and since a lot of bloggers are now using Facebook, I thought it would be worth my time to create a new profile just to use for my blog stuff. I'm still trying to figure it all out because the fan pages are a little different from personal profiles (plus the fact that I still can't get used to the *new* facebook format....even if it has been up for months). Anyway, you can visit the page and become a fan here: Simply Sweet Home Facebook Page.

On this page I'll be posting upcoming events, giveaways, future Sweet Thursday themes, and other site updates. And being a facebook fan or twitter follower will also allow you to get extra entries in future giveaways, which is always a huge plus!

As always, thanks for reading!



Monday, May 18, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Chicken Lasagna

This week I'm sharing a recipe that I recently tried for Chicken Lasagna. I love regular lasagna, but I only just tried chicken lasagna for the first time last year. I don't know why I never tried it sooner; I much prefer alfredo and other cream sauces over the marinara...I guess the opportunity just never came up.

This recipe is fairly easy to make, and it was very delicious. I found it on a blog several months ago, and I'm sorry to say that I have no clue where it came from. If you think it came from your site let me know so I can give you credit! Hope you guys enjoy it!

Recipe for Chicken Lasagna:

1 whole chicken (I used chicken 4-6 chicken breasts)
12 lasagna noodles
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used cottage cheese instead.)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheeese
2 teaspoons minced garlic
fresh cilantro


Boil the noodles according to package directions. Add about 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan to prevent noodles from sticking together. Rinse and set aside.

Pull chicken from bones (if using whole chicken or bone-in breasts.) Shred Chicken.

Mix the cream soups, sour cream, ricotta, garlic, and cilantro together. (I mixed in the cheddar cheese here as well.)

Layer in a greased baking dish. Spread a small amount of sauce on bottom. Then add 4 noodles. Place a layer of sauce over the noodles, followed by a layer of chicken, and a layer of cheese. And repeat until you have 3 layers of each. Top with cheddar and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Do not over bake.

Before Baking:

After baking:

Tips and Suggestions:
-When I made mine, I didn't do as many layers as this calls for. Instead I did three layers of the sauce (including the bottom layer), and 2 layers of the other ingredients. I didn't make the layers very thick, but the casserole still filled the pan, and it took more than the 4 noodles to line the pan as well. But it still turned out very yummy, so don't worry if you're number of layers don't match up.

-I also think it would be fine to mix the chicken in with sauce, and it make just a couple of big layers.

- I think you could also change this recipe up a bit by adding your favorite vegetables.

-Instead of using lasagna noodles, you could use macaroni noodles or even rice, and mix it in with the chicken and sauce to make a yummy casserole.

-This recipe would be great to carry to a family get together or a church potluck, and it's perfect for freezing for later.

-Also, this casserole lasted a while since it's just the two of us. In the future, I'll probably just make a half batch. It should be enough for a small family (2 adults, 1-3 children) to eat on a couple of times, possibly 3 if you serve with salad or other sides. And this is a perfect dish to serve if you're having company over.



I'm posting a link to this post on the following sites:
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday is hosted by Blessed With Grace.
Homemaker Mondays is hosted by
11th Heaven’s Homemade Haven.
Making A Happy Home Monday is hosted by
As For Me and My House….
Make Something Monday is hosted by Go Graham Go! and Jolly Mom and Diana Rambles.
Tasty Tuesday is hosted by Balancing Beauty & Bedlam.

I Am Blissfully Domestic is hosted by Blissfully Domestic.
Ultimate Recipe is Swap is hosted by Life as Mom.

Friday Feasts is hosted by Momtrends.

Works for Me Wednesday is hosted by We Are THAT Family

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Giveaway and Award Winners

The winners of my Break Pal Giveaway were selected via and have all been notified. Please join me in congratulating them.

They are
Denai at Random Bits of Knowledge
Erica at The Candy Bar
Aik at Friends and Family
Michelle at Garden Accents
Connie at Canuckian Contests

Thanks everyone for entering!

Also, I recently received two awards from Janet at The Money Jar. Janet's blog has a lot of information on coupon savings and other great deals. Be sure to check her out. Thanks so much for thinking of me, Janet!

The awards are the Splash Award and the One Lovely Blog Award:

I'm passing these along to the following blogs:

My Art and the Mom in Me

It's All in My Head

The Open Pantry

Baking Cakes Galore

Snooky Doodle Cakes & more

Always Tie Your Apron Strings

Keep up the good work, Ladies!



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sweet Thursday: Cupcake Round-Up

I'm very excited about this month's Sweet Thursday Round-Up. I just love looking at cupcakes on the web. There are so many unique flavors and methods of decoration out there, it's just mind blowing! And the cupcakes in our round-up are no exception to this. Thanks to everyone for allowing your cupcakes to be featured here.

If you have a cupake that you'd like to submit to this round up, just leave your link in the comments section of this post, and I'll add you to the round-up as soon as I can!

The next Sweet Thursday round-up will be on June 18, and since I featured cupcakes this time, for next month, I'll feature *cakes.* To have your cake featured in the round-up, just email a link to your post to (If you don't have a blog, you can send in a URL where you're photos are being hosted, or send in a photo as an attachment, and I'll get those up for you, as well.)

Strawberry Shortcake Babycakes from Five Star Sweets

Lemon Drop Babycakes from Five Star Sweets

Baby Coconut Bites from Snooky Doodle Cakes & More

Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes from Coco Bean

PB & J Cupcakes from Life in a Peanut Shell

Strawberry Crush Soda Cupcakes from Sweet Melissa Light

Margarita Cupcakes from Obsessed with Cupcakes

Full Moon Cupcakes from love-a-cupcake

Spring Flower Cupcakes from Nina's Culinary Creations

Black Bottom Cupcakes with Goat Cheese from Project Cupcake

Breast Cancer Awareness Cupcakes from Hoosier Homemade

Mother's Day Cupcakes from Snooky Doodle Cakes & More

Candy Bar Cupcakes from B's Huron lighthouse

My Internet Pick - Cappuccino Chip Cupcakes from Taste of Home

Birthday Cupcakes from Simply Sweet Home

Thanks for stopping by for Sweet Thursday, and thanks again to all my participants! Don't forget to stop by for next month's Cake Round-Up. And feel free to send in a submission any time between now and June 18.


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Monday, May 11, 2009

Hubby's Birthday Cupcakes

No recipe this week
. Instead, I'm sharing the cupcakes that I made for my husband's birthday last month. I decided to share these this week, so that I would have an entry for my own cupcake round-up this Thursday.

My husband is very easy to please in the dessert department. He'll try just about anything, but he only has a few things that he just absolutely LOVES. This is both good and bad. It's good because I don't have to go out of my way and make anything very elaborate for him to like it, but it sort of puts a damper on trying new recipes when I know he'd rather have one of his old faithfuls.

Anyway, in the cake department, he likes coconut cake and yellow cake with chocolate icing. Last year I made a yellow sheet cake with chocolate icing, but this year I wanted to do cupcakes instead. (Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am no cake decorator by any stretch of the imagination (obviously), but at least I tried.)

I have to admit, there's nothing like a plain chocolate iced cupcake! They looked so yummy, I decided to leave a few undecorated.
For the cupcake that would go at the top and center of the cupcake tree, I topped it with a Samoa Cookie and stuck a candle in the middle. My husband loves those cookies!

Here's the tree. In the future I'd like to use ribbon/tissue and what not to make it a little more attractive, but seeing as we weren't having a big birthday party, I saw no reason to do that this time.

In fact, my husband was impressed with the cupcake tree. He was with me when I bought it, but I guess he wasn't paying attention or he didn't remember it. So he was pretty wow'd by it, and was telling everyone about it later on.

For the other cupcakes, I used shredded coconut, candy sprinkles, and little Cadbury Mini Eggs.

I hope you all enjoyed these. I really enjoyed making them and EATING them!

By the way, don't forget to stop by on Thursday. I have several delicious looking cupcakes for this week's round-up. There's still time if you'd like for me to include you. Just send me a link to your cupcake post before Thursday or if you don't have a blog, just email me your photo, and I'll put them up. OR you can leave a link in the comments section of Thursday's post, and I'll add you to the round-up as soon as I can.

Next week I'll be back with a new recipe. Have a good week!



I'm posting a link to this post on the following sites:
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday is hosted by Blessed With Grace.
Homemaker Mondays is hosted by
11th Heaven’s Homemade Haven.
Making A Happy Home Monday is hosted by
As For Me and My House….
Kitchen Tip
Tuesdays is hosted by Tammy's Recipes
Make Something Monday is hosted by
Go Graham Go! and Jolly Mom and Diana Rambles.
Tasty Tuesday is hosted by Balancing Beauty & Bedlam.

I Am Blissfully Domestic is hosted by Blissfully Domestic.
Ultimate Recipe is Swap is hosted by Life as Mom.

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