Simply Sweet Home

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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hubby's New Job

My husband got hired on as an Aflac Agent about two months ago. I'm sure all of you have seen the duck commericals on tv, but you're probably not aware of what Aflac actually does. Unlike other insurance companies, Aflac offers supplemental insurance. Basically they cover things that your regular health insurance doesn't cover. And unlike other companies, Alfac pays the money directly to you instead of the doctor or hospital.

So let's say you're child is sick, and you have to take off work to take him or her to the doctor. Even with your regular insurance, you still may have a co-pay for the doctor's office and medicine, plus gas to get to the doctors office. When you file your claim with Aflac they basically reimburse you for these costs. And you can use the money for whatever you need: doctor bills, house bills, groceries, gas, or whatever you get the notion to buy.

Aflac offers the following services:
  • Cancer Policies
  • Life Insurance
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Short Term Disability
  • Long Term Disability
  • Accident Policies
  • And more!

I personally recommend the cancer policies as 1 out of every 3 women will get cancer in their life time and 1 out of 2 men will get cancer. And the cancer policies cover treatments, travel costs, and lot of things that other plans don't cover.

But all the policies are good. The costs are very affordable, especially considering everything they cover, and it's good safety net if you or someone in your family ever has a serious illness or injury that takes you away from work for an extended period of time.

If you have a need for any kind of supplemental insurance, please contact my husband Mark. Currently he is liscensed to sell Aflac in Alabama; however, if he has the opportunity to sell to anyone from another state, he will buy the liscense to be able to do that.

If you'd like any information on the products and services Aflac offers, please contact Mark by sending an email to



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WAHW: Hot Chocolate Gift Sets

My mom gave me this chocolate set a little while back. She won it at a charity event. Isn't it cute? I love going through store aisles and seeing all the gift sets available at Christmas and Valentine's, but when you stop and think about it, they sell a lot of these not because it's a great value for the money but because it's convenient.

But if we all just took a little time, we could make our own gift sets and make something that's a lot more personal, and we could save money along the way. So I decided I would use the items out of this gift set and put together a couple of tutorials so that you guys can make your gift sets for Valentine's Day or even for next Christmas (if you're thinking that far ahead).

Gift Option One: Option one would make a great couples gift. Or give it to that special friend who just adores chocolate.

What You Need:
1 or 2 coffee cups (You can usually find something cute at the dollar store.)
bottles or jars (Buy new at wal-mart. Or rinse out and reuse a sauce jar.)
hot chocolate packets
sugar or sprinkles (optional)
labels (make these with scrapbook supplies or create them using your photo/print shop programs)
1 basket
tissue or paper shreds to line the basket
funnel (if using bottles)

Instructions: Empty a few hot chocolate packets into a jar or bottle. (I like Swiss Miss.) If you desire, do the same with marshmallows and/or granulated sugar (or sprinkles--pink or red would be really cute for Valentine's!)

Use scrapbook supplies or your photoshop software to create your own custom labels. Print these out on sticker paper for easy application. If you don't have sticker paper, use regular paper and attach with glue or mod podge. If you desire you can also make a tag with heating instructions (get these off your hot chocolate packets.)

Line a gift basket with tissue paper, paper shreds, Valentine "grass," or other material. Arrange your jars/bottles and mugs in the basket as desired. For a little extra pizazz, decorate the basket with bow, or wrap with cellophane and bow.

Here's the example I made: This one just contains the two coffee cups and one bottle of hot chocolate mix. And I really do like the bottle because it seems very romantic...sorta reminds me of wine or champagne set. But I know the jars would be just as cute!

Gift Option 2: If you want an even less expensive and quick gift. Or if you're looking for something that you can make in bulk for coworkers, teachers, or church friends, try this option. (Sorry, I have no pics for this.)

What You Need:
1 Coffee Cup
2 or 3 packs hot chocolate mix
Clear plastic treat bags
Tags (design these with photoshop)
cellophane (optional)

Instructions: Empty your hot chocolate mix into a treat bag, and tie the bag up with ribbon. Place the baggie inside your coffee cup. Then create a tag with heating instructions for the hot chocolate. Print out your tag. Punch a hole in the corner of the tag, and use a ribbon to tie it to your cup handle or attach it to the baggie. (You could also wrap up the cup with cellophane. Tie it with a ribbon, and attach your tag to the outside.)

Above is another basket. It's a little bigger than the first one. And of course, you could always add some candies to the basket or anything else you deem appropriate (perhaps a book), if you need something to make the basket seem more full.

If you like gift baskets, be sure to come back next week, as I'll be sharing several that I've made.


I'm posting a link to this post for next week's editions of:
It’s So Very Creative hosted by
It’s So Very Cheri
Make it for Monday hosted by
Cottage Instincts
Made it Mondays hosted by
The Persimmon Perch
Making the World Cuter Monday hosted by
Making the World Cuter
Make Your Monday hosted by
Twice Remembered
Metamorphosis Monday hosted by
Between Naps on the Porch
DIY Day at
A Soft Place to Land
WFMW at We Are That Family
Valentine Party hosted by Hoosier Homemade

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You Can Make This - Feature & Giveaway

Hey Crafters! Here's something special for you. Just in time for Valentine and Spring Projects, You Can Make This offers patterns and instructions for anything and everything you'd ever want to make for gift giving! Today's post will feature just a few of the many projects that can be made with craft bundles from You Can Make This.

And today, as a special treat I'll be giving two of my readers a chance to win 4 Ebooks from You Can Make This. With these ebooks you can make all of today's featured projects and more cute stuff! And for more fun ideas, check out the blog at You Can Make This.

I love personlized stuff! Wouldn't you love to make a Personalized Name Pillow for your child? So cute!

With the Portrait Peasant Tops and Dresses ebook, you get all the patterns and instructions to make short or long peasants. You choose the sleeve length too and the type of ruffles.

Make pants, shorts, and capris with the patterns found in the Easy Fit Pants for Girls & Boys ebook.

I know everyone would love to lounge around in these easy fit pants. With this ebook: Easy Fit Pants for Tweens, Teens, Adults: XXS-3XL you can learn to make easy fit pants for the whole family.

Giveaway Closed.


Labels: , ,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Broccoli & Rice Soup

We don't eat a lot of soups at our house. Hubby doesn't find them very filling, but I experimented with this one not too long ago, and it turned out pretty good. This is one of those recipes where no exact measurements are really needed. The ones included here are really just a suggestion, but I guess that's the case with all recipes. Feel free to add more or less of an item, or take something out all together. Personally I think noodles would be a great substitute for the rice, but that's just me.

What's your family's favorite soup?

Recipe for Broccoli & Rice Soup:

2 cans of broccoli cheese soup
2 cans milk
2/3 cup rice
1 - 1 1/2 cups broccoli
1-2 chicken breasts chopped (optional)
little oil (for cooking chicken)
1-2 cups of cheddar cheese or Velveeta

Directions: Chop up your chicken and cook on stove in oil. (If you're in a hurry, use canned chicken breast.) Meanwhile cook your rice. In pot, add your soups. Then fill an empty can up with milk and add to the pot. Repeat. Mix together your soups and the milk. Add cheese at this time if using (see tip below). Add your brocolli to the mixture. Heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally. (If it starts to bubble, stir and turn down heat.) When soup is hot and broccoli is done, turn to low. Stir in your rice and chicken. Heat through for about 5 minutes on low and serve.

Tip: Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese or a slice of velveeta. Or for a cheesy soup, add one or two cups of cheese to the pot before adding your brocolli.

Have a great 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.
Tasty Tuesday is hosted by Balancing Beauty & Bedlam.
Works for Me Wednesday is hosted by We Are THAT Family
DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WAHW: Quick Valentine Decor

Today I'm sharing a few Valentine decor items. This is nothing too elaborate...just some things I had on hand that I could put out. I find that after the Christmas decor is put away, everything looks so bare. In the future when we're not on such I tight budget I'd love to buy some things to really make it festive. Till then, these items add a lot color and festiveness to the room. Perhaps you have similar items in your that you could use in this way too.

By the way, in the next couple of weeks, I plan on sharing some Valentine Gift Baskets that I've put together, so be sure to come back for that. I'm also planning to feature some Valentine craft ideas in a few weeks, so if anyone has a craft they'd like to have featured here, just send me your link in an email. Thanks!

Last year I helped my mom with the annual chocolate festival, and we had this cute heart garland that we didn't use. So I weaved it over the tops of the cabinets. (There was such a void to fill after the Christmas garland and balls went down.)

Next I took some of the pink & purple Christmas balls and placed them inside of some glassware:

And can anyone think of any better (or simple) Valentine decor than a candy dish or jar? (Disclaimer: Candy tends to disappear after a few may be necessary to buy extra "decor.")

My hubby bought me these cute little lovebird salt shakers last year. Most of the time, they are in China cabinet, but I put them out just for Valentine's Day.

Hubby also bought this cute cupcake plate last year at Hobby Lobby. (Isn't he the sweetest?)

And here's my snowman of the month for February. I guess if I thought about it, I have all kinds of figurines like this in my cabinet that are Valentine or Heart themed items. Maybe you do too. (And if not, you can get all kinds of things similar to this at the dollar store.) I find that little things like this can add a lot.
I love seasonal dish towels. I have a few of these heart towels in and around the kitchen.

And finally, here's another great example of using what you have. I got these four Valentine glasses. Most people would probably just pour a little coffee or hot chocolate in them. But I prefer to just sit them out and look at them.


Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sweetheart Hats from Lulu & Charlie: Feature & Review

Today I'm happy to tell you about a fantastic etsy shop that I found. Lulu & Charlie features blankets, hats, and nursery items for babies and toddlers. Everything is handmade by Jennifer in California, and all of her items are just fantastic! You're sure to find something here for your little one.

I had the honor of receiving a Sweetheart Hat from Lulu & Charlie to review. Let me start by saying that these are just plain adorable! The hats are crocheted and have earflaps and braids. They are made with 100% acrylic yarn, and there are two color combinations to choose from.

The hat I recieved is pink, red, and white. When I took it out of the package, I immediately fell in love! The colors are so warm and bright, and they go very well together. The hat was obviously created by an expert crafter. It was brilliantly designed and carefully crafted together with quality in mind. And the material is very soft and sure to be comfortable to your child.

The look of the hat is very cute and sweet. Actually if the hat was simply pink without any embellishments at all it would still be adorable, but the red heart crocheted on the front just seals the deal, making it cute as a button. And the white border around the edges, and cute little red, white, and pink braids are proof of the quality and attention to detail work that goes into the products at Lulu & Charlie.

Jennifer also has this hat available in silver blue, white, and espresso brown. This one was designed with your little boy sweetheart in mind (but I know the little girls would love it too).

There are several sizes available ranging from 0-3 months (14" around) up to 2-4 years (19-20" around). The hat size I chose was the 2 to 4 years size because I have a niece or cousin that falls into that age range, and if all else failed, I could save it for our baby. Now, this will probably make you laugh, but oddly enough when I got the hat I thought to myself, "I think I can wear this!" So I tried it on, and it actually fit me. So if you have a child older than 4 years old, they may still be able to wear one of these hats. Just measure around their heads before ordering.

Obviously I loved this hat and would absolutely recommend it to all you mothers out there. It would be a perfect Valentine gift for your little Sweetheart, keeping him or her cute and warm all winter long!


Labels: ,

Latest Giveaway Winners

Congrats to our latest giveaway winners:

Heidi who doesn't have a blog has won the business cards from Uprinting. She will be using her cards to promote a freelance writing business.

Jaime of Copper Llama Studio has won the $25 Coleman Giftcard.

Thanks everyone for participating in my giveaways!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies? (No one I know of.) And I know everyone out there has their favorite version. This particular recipe came from the Betty Crocker magazine. I decided if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me, so I tried it. And of course they came out looking, smelling, and tasting delicious!

(Reminder: No Sweet Thursday Dessert event this month. Instead it will be hosted on Feb 11. The theme is Winter/Valentines. To have your creation featured here, just email me the link to your post ( Also, if you have a particular photo you want used, send that as well.

Also, I'd like your opinion: I'm considering adding a linky to the event for anyone who just happens to come by. I figure we'd start with one or two links and maybe eventually get a bunch. However, I don't want a linky to dissuade people from emailing their item to me before the event b/c I still want to keep the usual format until a day when their may be too many entries to handle. On the other hand, a linky event might get more participation anyway. What do you guys think? I'd love to get your opinion!)

Sorry for the digression......enjoy the cookie recipe!

Recipe for Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teapoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag (24 oz or 4 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
(Note: I only used 2 cups)

Directions: Heat oven 350 degrees. In large bowl mix butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs with spoon. Stir in flour baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded measuring tabespoonfuls about 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet to colling rack.


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.
Tasty Tuesday is hosted by
Balancing Beauty & Bedlam.
Works for Me Wednesday is hosted by
We Are THAT Family
DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land


Labels: ,

Blooming on Bainbridge Pink-Week Giveaway

Here's a fun event for you giveaway lovers out there! Teresa at Blooming on Bainbridge has a fantastic blog filled with recipes and a bunch of other fun stuff. Plus, she's a fellow Tide fan, which is always an awesome thing! But I digress...

Teresa is hosting a Pink Week Giveaway this week, January 18-22. She'll have all kinds of great Pink Prizes to giveaway, so head on over there and join the fun!

Thanks Teresa for hosting this great event, and thanks for inviting me to the party!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WAHW: Goal Setting and Scheduling Time in 2010

Each new year we make a list of goals or projects for the year, but by March many of these fall by the wayside (if not before then). The key to achieving your new year's resolutions and completing your projects for the year is to set attainable goals and schedule time to work on all your projects and goals.

Keys to Goal Setting:

1. Set realistic, attainable goals.

2. Set goals that can be easily measured.
* I will post 5 times a week on my blog.
* I will get 50 new followers this month.
*I will get 5 sales a week.
* I will meal plan each week.
*I will try a new recipe each week.

3. Give yourself a time frame or deadline to achieve your goals.
*By the end of the month I will have my first sale.
*By the end of the month I'll have 10 new craft projects completed.
*I will declutter one closet each week.

4. Schedule time to work on your projects and goals. In other words, treat it like a job. This can be as general or specific as you'd like it to be, but you should make scheduled time for all your endeavors and be consistent.
*I will post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
*Each morning I will spend two hours working on my blog or networking.
*Each day I will clean one room in the house.
*Each morning I will list new items in my shop.

5. Write down your schedule and/or document your work.
-Keep a planner to write down your schedule and the tasks you want to perform each day.
-In your planner, in a separate notebook, or a on a blog, make a list of what you do each day. This will help you to measure your progress and will help you to stay on task.


Great Calendar For You: For those of you who have goals to declutter and keep a cleaner house this year, you may want to have a look at this year's Declutter Calendar over at My Simpler Life. The calender gives you a different task to do each day to help keep your house clean and clutter free. You could also have a look at this calendar and then make your own with your specific needs and tasks in mind.


Labels: , , ,

New Shop & Blog Launch


While hubby's been out of town as at a training conference, I've been a busy bee!

The new Simply Sweet Creations blog and shop have now been launched! Yay! The shop only has a few listings but you have to start somewhere. Right? And I promise there will be much more to come.

The new shop URLs are or

You can also access the new jewelry blog here:

New Newsletter:

If you're interested, I've added a new newsletter to go along with the new blog. I'm not sure if I noted previously when I added the business blog or not, but in case I didn't, I should note: Each of the three blogs has it's own separate newsletter. So if you're subscribed at Simply Sweet Home, you will only get Simply Sweet Home Updates. If you want be subscribed to 2 or all three of them, you will need to subscribe separately at each blog.

The Simply Sweet Creations newsletter will only come out once a month (unlike the SSH newsletter which comes out once a week). And it will include the latest post updates, new products, and sales. Also, if you subscribe to the newsletter, I'll occasionally send out special coupon codes and subscriber-only sales. (If Hubby were here he'd say, "Oooh! How exclusive!") And since Simply Sweet Home is my main blog, sometimes I'll send out similar offers to the SSH subscribers as well.

New Button: Also, I was asked if there would be a new button for the shop. The answer is yes. You can find the new button code right beneath my Simply Sweet Home Button, or you can get it from the new SSC blog. Thanks to everyone who decides to display any of my buttons on your page. I really appreciate the promo!

Sneak Peak at Future Listings: I'm planning to add new listings gradually over the next few weeks. Here's a sneak peak of some of the things I'll be adding in the near future.


Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Business Card Giveaway

The great people at Uprinting are offering us another great giveaway, and I'm very excited about this one! Uprinting will be providing one Simply Sweet Home reader a set of 250 business cards, and for hosting this giveaway, I'll be getting 250 business cards as well.

This is such an excellent prize. No business is complete without a business card, and I'm looking forward to getting some professionally printed cards for my new jewelry shop.

And if you don't have a business, you can still take advantage of this giveaway. You could use these to promote your blog, use them as Mom-cards, or a simple calling card to hand out to friends and family.

Here are the details on the prize:

250 Business Cards for one (1) lucky winner
Size: 2 x 3.5”, 2 x 3”, 2 x 2” (square card) or 1.5 x 3.5” (skinny card)
Paper: 14 pt gloss cardstock, 14 pt matte cardstock or 13 pt recycled uncoated cardstock
Shipping: Winners are required to pay shipping costs for their prizes.
Eligibility: Limited to US Residents due to shipping costs.

To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling us how you'd use your 250 business cards. Deadline to enter: January 17 at 10PM.

Additional Entries: Please note the changes in the number of extra entries for this giveaway.

-Three entries for following me publicly on blogger.

-Two entries for joining my feedblitz mailing list, or 5 entries if you are already a member prior to this giveaway.

-Two entries for subscribing in a reader.

-One entry for following or subscribing to my new business blog and one entry for subscribing to Simply Sweet Creations.

-Five entries if you visit my shop and make a purchase.

-Two entries for following me on twitter and/or becoming a fan on facebook.

-One entry for tweeting about this giveaway.

-Two entries for writing about this giveaway on your blog and linking back to Simply Sweet Home.

(Just leave comments for each additional entry, and please leave a user name/link or something so that I can verify. Thanks!)

Other Rules:
-Don't forget, if you don't have a blog or a profile with a visible email address, please include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win. (Can't stress this enough!)


MckLinky Blog Hop

Click here to see the entire Giveaway Blog Hop List....

Labels: ,

Shepherd's Pie

There's nothing like a little piping hot comfort food on a cold winter's day! And since it's been so cold this past week, it seemed like the perfect time to share my recipe for Shepherd's Pie. I must admit, though I'd heard of this, I had never tried it until I got married. My husband told me that it was one of his favorite dishes and requested that I make it some time, so I gave it a shot. Boy, have I been missing out all these years! If you're missing out too, you should really give it a try!

Recipe for Shepherd's Pie:

1 pound ground beef
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Dale's would also be great!)
1 bag (16 ounces) frozen vegetable combination, thawed (you can also use canned or frozen veggies)
2-3 cups mashed potatoes.
1/2 cup- 1 cup of shredded cheese.

Directions: Heat the oven to 400°F. Cook the beef in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often. Pour off the grease. Meanwhile, make your potatoes. (I like to use homemade, but if you're in a hurry, try instant potatoes.)
Stir the beef, soup, Worcestershire and vegetables together and pour into a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Spoon the potatoes over the beef mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned.



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.
Tasty Tuesday is hosted by
Balancing Beauty & Bedlam.
Works for Me Wednesday is hosted by
We Are THAT Family
DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land

Labels: ,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Preview of Simply Sweet Creations Shop & Blog

Hello everyone! If you've looked at my profile in the last several months, you probably noticed that I have a blog listed under my profile, in addition to this one titled, "Coming Soon."

Well, the blog that's "Coming Soon" is going to be a blog where I'll be sharing jewelry I've made and other craft projects I'm working on. The name of the blog guessed it: Simply Sweet Creations. I'm also opening my own shop on etsy where I'll be selling jewelry and other items. I've been planning to launch this for months, but things just kept coming up. But now I'm ready to take the plunge and add some items to the shop.

The shop is going to start out small. I have a ton of stuff that I've made, but I know it will take a while to get traffic, so I'm planning to add more stuff gradually. I also have a ton of ideas for new things to make in the future, but I'm on a tight budget right now, so I have to be a little selective of the materials and things that I buy.

I hope to open the new blog and shop up to the public in the few days. When I have it launched, I'll be sure to post the links here so that you can come take a look at my items, and I look forward to reading your comments. Please wish me luck in this new endeavor, and don't forget to tell your friends about it!

Today I'm giving you a small preview of my items. As I look through my stock, I see huge variety of colors and styles...I'm not even sure what to feature! So please bare in mind this is just a small preview!


Labels: , , ,