Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Boy Scout Birthday Bash

This past weekend I threw a joint birthday party for my hubby and his best friend. It was so much fun, especially considering hubby's best friend's wife is my close friend and she helped throw the Birthday Bash.

When we were discussing what we should theme the party, the idea came up to celebrate their birthdays by reminiscing on the days of their youth as Boy Scouts. I had a ton of fun searching through Pinterest and my own imagination to come up with ideas for the party. I spent the week before the party making the decorations.

First, I made the "Happy Birthday" banner by printing out the font I wanted from Microsoft Word. Then, I traced the letters onto cardboard and cut them out using my Exacto Knife. Next, I traced the letters onto outdoorsy themed scrapbook paper, cut them out, and mod podged them onto the cardboard letters. Finally, I punched holes through each letter and strung them together using twine. I think it turned out awesome (see bottom right picture) -->
Second, I made the "Boy Scout Camp" sign. I went around my town house and gathered up twigs. I broke them and laid them out to spell the words. Then, I simply glued the pieces of stick to the cardboard, punched holes in the cardboard and strung it on some twine. I made the "Camp" arrow the same way. Our townhome is on the corner and you can't actually see our front door from the parking lot, so I thought it was a cute way to point the way for our guests that had never been there before.Finally, the day of the party, my beloved hubby hung my tent entrance. We used white curtains that used to hang in our living room, but I shrunk them accidentally in the dryer. Since then we had bought new ones, but I had hung onto these knowing one day they would serve a purpose. Hubby draped them over sticks and hung the sticks using twine and hooks. He did a great job at fufilling my vision.

Also during the week, I planned out the menu for the food we would offer, and I made the tent that would be the centerpiece of the table. (See table picture below). I made the tent using twigs and twine and covering it with some fabric. I actually LOVE the way it turned out.

Throughout the week, I made my lists of things that had to get done and the grocery lists. Friday after work, my friend and I went to Sams to buy food and hung out at my house making all of the delicious treats and rocking out to some Disney music. Meanwhile, our two husbands hung out and played on their computers. We had so much fun making everything!

Starting from left to right on the table I will now explain the Boy Scout themed treats we made :)

1) S'more Bites:
Because S'mores are so messy, we decided to do a bite- size treat. All you have to do is melt some chocolate and crush some graham crackers. Then take a marshmallow (on a fork or toothpick) and dip it in the chocolate then into the graham crackers. Place it on a cookie sheet with wax paper. The chocolate hardens in just a few minutes. They were easy to make and our husbands loved them!

2) Acorns:
These are also really easy to make and very tasty. Unwrap the Hershey kisses and break pretzel rods into little bits and dump the mini nilla wafers in a bowl. I put the three ingredients into separate bowls. Then I put chocolate icing into ziploc bags. It turned out to be beneficial to make two icing bags because as the icing gets warm by using it, it stops holding together as well. Having two bags lets you keep one in the refrigerator so you can switch it out. Then just use the icing to attach the Hershey kisses to the mini nilla wafers and then add the pretzel bits to the top. That's it! These were a big hit!
Acorn Inspiration Here

3) Fire Cupcakes:
These are pretty straight forward. We made vanilla cupcakes. Then I colored 1/4 of the icing red and the rest green. We iced the cupcakes with the green. Then using a tip and the red icing, and put "flames" in the middle of the cupcake. Finally, break the pretzel rods into thirds and stick the ends into the flames. This was such a fun addition.
Cupcake Inspiration Here

4) Sliders and Mini Corndogs:
We decided to go with sliders rather than full sized burgers because it was more reminiscent of Boy Scout days. We used salt, pepper, and garlic salt to season the burgers. Then you just roll the patties to be about 2oz or 1/8 of a lb. Then you grill it for 6-8 min the day of and put it onto dinner rolls. The mini corndogs were pre-made frozen ones that you simply bake in the oven.
5) Pinewood Derby Cars:
These were also a lot of fun to make. We used a variety pack of mini candy bars. We used m&ms as the wheels, Spree as the steering wheel, and Honey Teddy Grahams as the drivers. Unwrap the candy bars, cut the spree in half, and cut the teddy grahams in half. Then use chocolate icing to glue it all together. The color coding turned out really cute!
Derby Car Inspiration Here

6) Edible Fire:
This is a brownie baked in a circle pan. When it was cool, I covered it with chocolate icing and then sprinkled crushed graham cracker over it. We used twix bars as the logs and red and orange m&ms as the coals. Finally, we used Fruit Roll-ups as the flames. The one that was my inspiration used tissue paper as the flames, but that wasn't edible so I came up with this idea. It turned out super cute.
Edible Fire Inspiration Here

We also served lemonade and sweet tea and allowed guests to bring their own beer.

I was soo happy with all of the food. Everybody loved it. The final decorations were a couple of Boy Scout themed activities. First, on top, I printed out different Boy Scout badges. I picked ones that represented the interests of our birthday boys. I set out safety pins, and had the guests pick a badge and wear it. Second, I printed out the Boy Scout Law which is the characteristics to be found in a Boy Scout. I set out sharpies and cards to have our guests write a note to the Birthday boys pointing out how they saw the traits of a Boy Scout in them.

Well, that was my Boy Scout Birthday Bash! I am so excited about how everything turned out and everybody seemed to really enjoy the food and decorations. This is my favorite party I have thrown and I had so much fun doing it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I am so excited about the things that God is doing in the life of the Nolls!

1. Earlier this year, I finally got a teaching job! I have been searching and praying for a teaching job since I graduated FSU in May 2010. (Well I've actually been praying about it since I was a child.) The first August after graduating, school started and I didn't have a job. I was devastated. It is probably the most I have questioned my life and my dreams and even the path that I thought God had put me on. I don't know how I would have made it through without my beloved husband. Throughout the next year, I worked two jobs at the same time (which was rough) while Austin finished up grad school. Finally, Austin graduated and got a job (yay!) Less than a month later, he got a raise (double yay!) He was now making enough that I could resign from my job (Sorry Dr. Currieo) and focus on looking for a teaching job. As I spent time at home, I discovered that I love being a stay at home wife and focusing on my husband and our home. Through it, we saw we could live comfortably on only Austin's salary. Austin told me that I didn't have to work unless I wanted to. I figured out through all of this that I really only wanted to work in a Christian school. As I stated at the beginning of this post, I got a teaching job for next school year. I am so excited about the school! It is a Christian school here in Tallahassee that is a hybrid program. The students are in school Mon-wed and then they are home schooled by their parents Thurs-Fri. The teachers send home lesson plans for the home school days. I absolutely love the set-up of the program. The school focuses on academic excellence, moral excellence, spiritual excellence, and leadership combined together for a God-centered, well-rounded education. I am an assistant teacher this year. I hope that I can show what I can do and hopefully get to have my own classroom next year. But for now, I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this environment and so thankful to get back into the classroom.

2. The second exciting event is that Austin got another promotion! He started his new position on Monday. He is now in management. When talking about his new position, it is the position that he had been looking for when he was preparing to graduate grad school. At that point, either the companies weren't the right fit, or they required traveling for five days out of the week. As we did not want that in our lives, we moved away from that route. God saw fit to bring us back to the perfect job for Austin.

3. Finally, we are in the final stages of buying a house! We will be closing at the end of July. I could not be more excited about this house! It was built in 1950s, so it does need a little updating. I am even excited about that. It has a lot of charm and I can't wait to put my stamp on it through the decorating. I promise pictures when we close. I can't wait to move in. Although, I am not loving packing up our townhome. How did we get so much stuff into this place???

Whew! What a crazy whirlwind summer it has been, and it is not done yet! Praise the Lord for his faithfulness to us!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Freezer Meals Part 2

These freezer meals have been a life saver! I love just being able to grab something and dump it in the crockpot. It will be even better when we move into a new house and can have a second freezer to store them. You can see part 1 of my freezer meal adventure here. I labeled each bag with the recipe name and the instructions for cooking prior to filling the bags. I did 2 bags for each recipe. I promised to post the recipes that I used for my freezer meals so here they are: 


Teriyaki Chicken from Ring around the Rosies
Medium – Large bag of carrots
Red Onion into Large Chunks  2 large cans pineapple (undrained)
4 Garlic Cloves  8 Chicken Breasts  1 cup teriyaki sauce

Follow the directions above and split everything into two gallon freezer bags. Shake it up, seal, and put in the frezer.
Instructions for Bag: Add 1/4 cup terriyaki sauce to crock pot. Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours. Serve over hot rice. 

Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken from Mama and Baby Love
3 medium unpeeled  sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, about 2 cups.
2 cups chopped onion.
2 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca (or flour, or some other thickening agent).
8 chicken breasts (4 per bag)
2 15-ounce can of tomato sauce.
4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon ground yellow mustard.
2 clove garlic, finely minced, about 2 tablespoons.
1 teaspoon salt

Divide everything into two, one gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer.
Instructions for Bag: Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours. 

Divine Chicken
8 chicken breasts
4 cups baby carrots
4 cups fresh broccoli (chopped)
2 onions
salt/pepper to taste
2 cartons of cream of chicken soup (add 1 each at cook time)
2 cup milk (add 1 each at cook time)

Split everything  into two containers. shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer.
Instructions for Bag: Add 1 cream of chicken soup and 1 cup of milk, cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours

Beef Stew (My own recipe)
2 Packages Beef for stewing
6 bullion cubs (3 per bag)
Potatoes (chopped)
Baby carrots
2 packages onion soup mix (1 per bag)

Split everything into two bags. Shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer. 
Instructions for bag: Add 2 cups of brown gravy to crockpot. Cook on low 8 hours. Serve over hot rice.

Honey Brown Sugar Chicken (My own recipe)
8 chicken breast
½ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
8 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil

Split everything into two bags. Shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer. 
Instructions for bag: Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours

Taco Soup (My own recipe)
3 lbs ground beef (browned)
2 pkg taco seasoning
2 pkg ranch dressing mix
2 cans pinto beans
2 cans chili beans
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans corn
Mrs. Dash seasoning
Natures seasoning
Minced dried onions

Split everything into two bags. Shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer. 
Instructions for bag: Add Mrs Dash, Natures seasoning and minced dried onion seasoning to crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hrs or high for 4 hrs.

Savory Vegetable Beef Soup from The Test Kitchen of Melissa Fallis
2 lbs Brown ground beef in pan as usual- once cool divide mixture between bags
2 whole carrots chopped per bag
3 Red Potatoes chopped per bag
1 can v8 split between bags
1 28oz can diced tomatoes SPLIT between bags
1 cup frozen green beans in each bag
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire per bag
1/2 cup Beef Broth per bag
1 tbsp Parsley per bag
1 tsp Basil per bag
1/2 tsp Thyme per bag
1/2 tsp salt per bag
1/2 tsp pepper per bag
1 tbsp Sugar per bag

Instructions for Bag: Add 1.5 cups of water and 15 oz Beef Broth. Cook on LOW 8 Hours.

Each recipe makes 2 bags and each bag gives me and my husband two dinners and at least one lunch. So from seven recipes we get 28 dinners. As I said in part 1, I only spend $95 on all the groceries for all 28 dinners (except honey, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce as I already had those) as well as an additional 4 lbs of hamburger meat. I split those into 1lb each and froze that as we use it in spaghetti, hamburger helper, and other recipes. 

So far we have really been enjoying having all these meals already prepared. 

The other thing I have to add is that I love using the Reynolds slow cooker liners.They make clean up super fast. They have been tested and are perfectly safe for cooking food at high temperatures. These have a permanent place on my pantry shelf and are essential to this whole freezer meal idea working successfully (because as much as I love my crockpot, I HATE cleaning it). This saves so much time!

I hope if you use my recipes and blog about it you will give me credit as I have done for those whose recipes I used. 

As for this experience, I will definitely be doing freezer meals on a regular basis and look forward to finding new recipes to try out. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Food Glorious Food! Freezer Meals Part 1

Just a picture of food to tantalize your senses!
For a couple of months I have been reading about this thing called: freezer meals. It was all over Pinterest. The idea is that you spend one day cooking/ assembling meals for a month, then you put them in your freezer. When you need it, all you have to do is pull it out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator the night before (or the morning of depending on the meal) and cook it or heat it up. All of the instructions for what the meal needs to be finished are written on the packaging so you don't have to think at all. I loved this idea. Mostly because when it comes down to making dinner, I am either tired, lazy, or just don't have any creative ideas. We have been eating a lot of pasta and hamburger helper the past month or so. Plus the women that have done this all say that they save a lot of money doing meals this way. We live on a fairly tight budget, so I am all about saving some money in the grocery department.

Finally, I decided it was time to try it for myself. So on June 5, I went through my pinterest board and found all of the pins on freezer meals and followed them to the blogs of those that had written about this process. I read the pros and cons and the different variations on how to do these. Some did a lot of actually cooking on the prep day. They cooked all the meat and assembled everything. A couple of other bloggers said that they tried doing it that way but it was so exhausting and took all day. Instead, they just did all of the prep work and chose to do all meals that can be cooked in the crockpot. This meant almost no cooking during prep and all you have to do is thaw and then dump.

Now, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE my crockpot. It is probably my favorite appliance that is in my kitchen. I love being able to throw stuff in there in the morning and by the end of the day we have a delicious dinner. So I decided that the crockpot freezer meals were the way I needed to go.

So I went through my recipe box and through all of the recipes that those who had done freezer meals before me had assembled and pulled together seven recipes that I wanted to try for my first go around. (I will post all the recipes in the next post). I figured out what I had in my pantry and what I needed to buy. I made my grocery list and went shopping.

I spent $170 at the grocery store, but we had been out of a lot of staples. I went through my receipt and figured out that for everything that I bought for the freezer meals I only spent $95! Less than $100 for a months worth of food (which is what I ended up with...)?? I'll take it! Other than buying milk, I don't anticipate needing much else for the rest of the month! I organized everything so it was ready to go for prep day, which I was going to do the next day (June 6). I was a little tired from planning and shopping, plus I still had a lot to do around the house since we had just gotten back from a trip.

Next post I will:
1) Post the recipes I used (giving credit where credit is due of course)
2) Post pictures of my finished product

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crafty Wreath Goodness

I love being crafty! I have been having so much fun lately making some of the crafts that I have pinned on pinterest or just crafts that I have the idea for all by myself. I love working with my hands and creating something. 

This post came from an idea off of pinterest- A rag wreath. Here is a blog with a great tutorial: Halloween Rag Wreath  I wanted to an FSU wreath, but not one that was specifically football, so I could hang it throughout the year. Although, I plan to continue making wreaths so I can have one for different holidays. 

First, I picked out three fabrics. I bought a yard and a half of each (I only got a yard of the FSU one) and I have a lot left over. I probably have enough to make a second wreath if I want to as a gift or something :). My friend that I made this with also bought a polka dot fabric for an accent that we both used in our wreaths. That just sent it over the top to awesome in my book! (For those that dont know, I am obsessed with polka dots!) I also bought a wreath form from Hobby Lobby that you can see in a picture below. They have four different sizes so I bought the 12 inch one for only $2.47. I also bought wooden letters for the F-S-U. 

After you have your fabric, you need to cut them into strips. I cut mine into 7" long and 1" wide strips. Remember that they are supposed to look rag like so if they aren't cut perfectly it is okay. Some people just cut slits at the intervals they want and then rip the fabric, but I am too much of a perfectionist to go that far. (You can see the polka dot fabric on the left!)

This is when I was done tying strips
Then you just start tying. The wreath form has four tiers, but I only tied my strips on three of them. It made it really full, but not overly so. It works best if you keep the print side facing up when you thread it on the wire. I also double-knotted my fabric because I did not want it to come undo at some point. As far as pattern, I basically just alternated between the garnet and gold and threw in the FSU and polka dot fabrics throughout. 
When I finished tying the strips, I added a length of ribbon by tying to the back and making a loop.

After I finished tying all of the strips and adding the ribbon, it was time to do the letters. I had gotten packs of letter from Hobby Lobby that came with two of each letter in a pack for $1.47 each. To decorate the letters I simply used a high quality glue stick and sprinkle the glitter on, tapping the excess back into the jar. You could also use spray adhesive. Another option would be to simply paint the letters, but I like the pizzazz of a little glitter!

Once the letters were dry, I simply hot glued them to the wreath. And voila! An FSU rag wreath. 

I had a lot of fun making this with my friend while we listened to country music and then watched Mama Mia. It is a great craft to do with a friend, or a good movie, or in my case both!

Now I simply can't wait for football season! 

Oh and we just got some awesome stadium chairs for this season so now we are fully prepped for some FSU football!

Happy tying!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Cute Way to Save Cards

My family has always made fun of me for saving the cards I get for my birthday or other events. I always said that I would figure out someway to preserve those cards. I found an idea via Pinterest (my addiction)! I found it at Something Turquoise

First, gather your supplies. You will need two pieces of cardboard, and the paper you have chosen for both the front and the back of your album. You will need paper for the outside and the inside. You will also need ribbon to tie your album together. You will also need brads to attach the ribbon, glue, a ring, and any additional decorations for your album. 

I gathered all our wedding cards together. I sorted them out by size and found the largest card. I used that as my sizing guide to cut the cardboard and paper. I added 1/4 inch to the measurements of the lengths and widths in order to ensure that the card doesn't stick out from underneath. Cut two pieces of cardboard to size (one for the front, one for the back). Pick out the paper, or combination of paper, and cut to size. Attach the paper you picked for the front to the cardboard (for the outside and inside of your front cover). Attach the paper that you picked for the back cover- only the outside, do not attach the inside yet as you will need it to cover the brads so they don't show.


Measure out how much ribbon you will need to tie around your album. If it is one that you want to add cards to as the years go by then add a couple extra inches. find the middle of the ribbon and the middle of the back piece of cardboard. Use an exacto knife or some other knife to create a hole through the ribbon and cardboard. I put three brads in my album but others choose to only do two. Attach the ribbon. Now you can attach the paper to the inside back cover to hide the brads. 

The final step for creating the cover for your album is to decorate the front if you so choose. I simply chose to use gold stickers for "Austin and Kelsey" and the date of our wedding and a black calligraphy pen to write "Our Wedding Cards".

Punch holes through all of your cards and arrange them on the ring in whichever order you choose. Add the front and back covers and close the ring. Tie the ribbon and step back to admire your beautiful album of cards!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentines Day = Lots of Chocolate!

This year I had so much fun with Valentines Day!

It started with thinking up ideas for what to make Austin to take in for his work. They do parties for every holiday. The past couple of parties they have had, I have sent in some sort of treat. Now for the past couple of weeks, his coworkers have been asking him what I was going to send in with him for Valentines Day.

We decided we wanted him to take in a platter of chocolate with chocolate boxes (idea came from Cake Boss) with homemade chocolate hearts, roses, and flowers and chocolate dipped strawberries. It was an adventure, but in the end we managed to make two different types of chocolate boxes to put on the platter. It turned out awesome!

(Huge platter for Austin's work)

(Single box)

We actually made extra boxes. One we gave to Austin's best friend and his wife. One we gave to my best friend. And finally one we put on top of a cake (homemade by me) and took it to our fellowship group.

(Single box on top of a homemade yellow butter cake with homemade buttercream icing)

The cake turned out wonderfully and I am pretty happy with the decorating. I am slowly improving in my cake decorating skills. All in all it was a lot of fun and a LOT of chocolate!
(We used 2- 2lb bags of melting chocolate and 1- 2.5 lb bag of melting vanilla)

I would love to hear what you think!