Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Too Cute Not to Toot!!

YEAH!  Christmas crafts galore :-)  This first one that I am posting is one I actually want to make.  It is cheap and easy to do and I have a few dark corners in my home that need something pretty. 

Check out this great idea for Christmas decor at Arts and Crap
She gives a great (and humorous) tutorial for the silver ornaments.  They are so unique!
Here is a simple craft to do using terra cotta pots!!!  I can see this going in my bathroom.  (It just matches so well!)  I'm also thinking that this would make a GREAT addition to my porch - The pots are made to go outside so they should hold up well.  I might have to price these at Walmart and see what I can get. . ..
See it all here!!
Over at Lemon Tree Creations is a cute idea for making Twine Trees without using up those expensive Styrofoam comes (you just keep reusing the same one for your molds and than go from there!).
See the full tutorial here!
Oopsey-daisy offers up a recipe and patterns to make gingerbread houses.  I love the idea that they save all their stale candy throughout the year to use on the houses instead of buying new since you really don't end up eating it once it is "glued" to the house!  (But . . . . who actually has stale candy? LOL)
Click Here!
Over at House of Hepworths, I saw these really cute Nutcrackers.  Now really, Nutcrackers are not anything I decorate with but they are so creative.  Even if you aren't into decorating with them - click on the link above to see the "before" photos - this is the after.  I'm just amazed at what she did with something from the Dollar Store!

There are a ton of Advent Calendar Ideas in blog land and I've posted quite a few of them in various "too Cute Not to Toot!" posts.  This one is a little different - it is the 12 days of Christmas with 12 different things to do.  This strikes me as something to do for couples without kids to eat all the candy in the advent calendars OR to a family with Teenagers - what a great way to get them involved in some things as a family!
Click Here!

My Favorite Things - Week 3

High Heeled Housewife
It's time for week 3 of the My Favorite Things Challenge!  Here's this week's challenge: This week, instead of dreading doing your household chores, focus on your favorite household chore. 

I have thought about this one for a little while and it is sooo much easier to think of the chore that is my least favorite but that isn't the point is it?  LOL  When I first read the list of items for this challenge, one thing had popped into my mind instantly and it is what I keep coming back to so that must be my favorite household chore.  What is it?  Without out a doubt, it is organizing.  I wasn't sure if this was really a "chore" but for me, it really is.  I spend hours organizing things to make sure that everything has a home!  This year, this was my huge home goal - to organize my entire house but cleaning out every single room, only keeping what I love, and giving everything that I didn't love away.  It gives me a true sense of satisfaction to see a finished room.  My bins are all labeled and numbered and the list of all the items in each bin is in my Control Journal so I can always look before I go buy something new!! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Birthday Name Banner

What is better than to see your name strung across a room?  I think we all like see our names posted in honor whether we admit it or not!

I had fun creating this banner for Josh's 2nd birthday!

I used a foam star to trace star patterns onto scrapbook paper

Than I used a class to trace a circle to stick on top of the star.

Using my Sizzix, I cut out all the letters for Joshua's name from more scrapbook paper

I used Mod-podge to attach the letters to another circle made from more scrapbook paper.

Than I used glitter glue on the letters to make them sparkle
And here is the final product
As you can see, I punched holes in the star and used twine to string it up.  I placed a dot of hot glue on the twine to hold the star in place.

I also hot glued buttons and ribbon on each star to add to it.

I might not have a mantel but I have a great entertainment center :-)

I found this great idea at Oopsey Daisy, one of my favorite crafters.  For her full tutorial click here

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Holiday Plans and Cleaning Ideas

I had planned to post some pictures of the rest of my holiday decorating but haven't uploaded anything yet :-)  Darryl and I are enjoying our va(stay)cation without the kidlets so I'm not really pushing to do a whole lot.  My living room is almost completely decorated with the exception of wrapping the large pictures.  Right now my table is covered with scarpbooking stuff (since the kids are gone) so I have no room to wrap :-)  I'll do that Tuesday or Wednesday.  

Instead, I found this neat blog that has some more very interesting ideas for deep cleaning your house AND preparing for Christmas throughout the year.  I thought I would share this with you before the new year comes - I'm thinking of integrating these ideas into my Deep Cleaning plans I already have.

Rocking Granola has some interesting ideas!
She gives a couple of ideas that caught my attention.  1) A weekly room deep cleaning - this is similar to what I already have in place but I like that "to do" lists she has listed for each room 2) Holiday Plan for each week - what to buy, lists to make, freezer meals to make etc.  3) Plan a Rudolph Day each month (such as the 25th of each month) to work specifically on things for Christmas.  I had never thought of this - it could be things like making gifts, planning baking, making master grocery lists - anything.  It might also be fun to have a holiday search and find for the kids.  Maybe have 12 little holiday decorations of some sort and on the 25th of each month, hide one of them.  Who ever finds it first over the course of the next months, gets a special treat.  Maybe a piece to a puzzle or something even that we can "build" throughout the year . .. just thinking out loud right now!

The site that "Rockin' Granola" recommends using is Organized Christmas.  I had not seen this site before but I already like it.  Who doesn't want an organized Christmas?  I'm hopeful that they will have a 2011 plan so I can incorporate this into my Holiday Journal as well. 

My holiday plan has gone very well this year - I never felt overwhelmed with decorating; I was able to clean things out, and actually enjoy the process.  There are a few things I need to work on for next year.  One big one is how to store things from the time I decorated for fall until Christmas.  All of my regular decor and fall decor is currently all mixed up so it will make for a little more work when I take down the Christmas stuff.  I already know that I need a few extra bins to put regular decor in so the fall decor bins will be empty when it is time to pack that stuff away!  Also, I need to plan baking and holiday means much earlier and make lists of supplies I can buy earlier so I don't end up with a family eating spaghetti several times a week so I can get the stuff I need for all the "fun stuff" LOL  I also need to put "write the Christmas letter" and "get the Christmas picture" earlier - that is on this next weeks list and I usually like to have it done by Thanksgiving so they can go in the mail!  Lessons learned, right?

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


This year, Thanksgiving day marked the start of our vacation too so it is doubly nice.  On Thanksgiving morning, we got up and hit the road by 7:30 to drive to Indianapolis to have Thanksgiving with my family.  We had never been to my brother's house (he's lived there for over a year) so we were SUPER excited!!!  Of course, traveling with two kids always adds a little excitement.  About an hour into the trip we got to experience our first bout of carsickness . .. . poor Joshua is all I'll say.  Luckily we had extra clothes and lots of wet wipes.  That was, thankfully, the only excitement in our entire trip!!!  Well, except for the fact that I made two wrong turns in the last 1 mile of the trip WITH the GPS yelling at me telling me which way to go! LOL 

My brother, Jeff and his family are fabulous hosts.  They have unofficially won the honor of hosting Thanksgiving from now on :-)  It was so nice to be able to just sit and chat with them while the Grandparents entertained the children!!  They have a beautiful home (my sister-in-law has a knack for decorating on a budget and having it look like a magazine showroom). 

Jeff was in charge of dinner (his choice) and I must say - he made the best turkey I've ever tasted in my entire life.  It was so flavorful and moist.  If he'll share his recipe for me to use on the turkey in my freezer, I promise to share :-)  They also made some incredible corn on the cob - wow, I need that recipe too!!! 

We headed back home that evening - have you ever noticed that the drive home seems to take twice as long even though the actual time is the same?  Wow, that was one long drive - but it really wasn't bad!  Both kids zonked and went right to bed when we got home. 

Here's a few pictures :
The table before we ate - Brittany and Brandon made the Pilgrim hats :-)

The adults minus Brandon who was taking the photo

The kid table - I just loved seeing Josh sitting at that table with his cousins.  He LOVED Kate and "talked" to her the whole time.  And I promise, Nate is here - but he was sitting in a booster on the floor next to me so he missed the pictures!!

Brittany and Brandon - they are awesome!

Two of my three brothers and their wives - Ken and Lynnette and Jeff and Nora.  Somehow we never got a picture with all of us.
A couple of things I "wish" - I wish I would have taken more pictures - I actually stole these from my sister-in-law because I haven't downloaded mine yet but I didn't take a dinner table photo or get photos of all the adults together or even a huge group shot.  When you have little kids - your focus tends to turn to them to make sure they are doing ok instead of remembering to take photos!!  And I wish I could have eaten more food LOL 

We also played this awesome skit!  You should print it and save it for next year - it really was a lot of fun.

Click here to get the skit
A few other things from our weekend.  On Friday we did a few things around the house before heading to the Grandparents house.  We had planned to go to Crossroads Village but the weather turned frigid and taking two munchkins out didn't sound appealing so instead we met for dinner, had a great visit and than left the kids :-)  Darryl and I are enjoying some time, just the two of us, for a few days before doing some things with the kids.  Today, we lounged at home before heading into Grand Rapids.  We ate at the Beltline Bar and seriously got the best Mexican food ever!  Than we each went to stores we enjoy - Darryl dropped me off at Hobby Lobby while he went to the Guitar store :-)  I Love Hobby Lobby LOL  We also did some "fake" Christmas shopping. What is "Fake" shopping - we went to Toys R Us and walked through all the toy aisles taking pictures of things we like for the kids.  Now, we can take those items, push them against our budget, and pick out our favorites.  There isn't a chance for he and I to go shopping without the kids again before Christmas so this way, we could both pick things out and one of us can stop and pick up the toys as the budget allows!!!  We went to see a movie - it was FANTASTIC! (Inception - wow, that's all I can say)   And now are enjoying pie at Grand Traverse Pie Company.  YEAH!  What a great day - so much to be thankful for :-)

I don't post these types of posts often but it is fun to actually write about what's going on the life of the Koll's :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Beef Tips and Noodles

This is one of my all time favorite recipes.  My mom made it when I was growing up and my husband and I enjoy it over and over :-)  It is so yummy!

Place 1 ½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a plastic bag. Add 2 pounds sirloin steak cut into small pieces, shake in bag. (Often, I just buy the stew meat because it is cheaper and, it simmers for a long time so it does get tender.  You could use almost any cut of beef for this though.)

 Brown the floured steak cubes in ¼ cup margarine for about 15 minutes
  Add: 1 small chopped onion, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 14-oz can beef broth, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon basil, salt and pepper to taste.
 Mix well, cover and simmer over low heat for 1 ½ hours, stirring once in awhile

 Instead of letting it simmer in the pan - I've learned to pour it carefully into a cockpot and let it cook on low for 2-4 hours.  The meat gets sooooo tender by doing this!  Plus, you don't have to remember to stir it :-)
We liked it served over egg noodles but you could also serve it over rice.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all enjoy your day with family and friends!  I know that we are - with lots of laughs, food, and games!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness

November 24, 2010
Today I am thankful fo r quiet family time.  After a very busy day trying to get everything done (and it is!) it sure is nice to be able to sit in my warm living room as the rain hits the windows and relax with my hubby, playing on our laptops.  Candles are burning, we had some yummy dessert, an awesome dinner, and our va(stay)cation has begun.  I love my life. 

Shutterfly for Christmas - Fa La la la la FREE!

Guess what time of year it is?  It is time to get those Christmas cards ready to send out!  Yes, I am one of THOSE people.  I love to write my letter and send out a family picture to my dearest family and friends. What better way to show the special people how much your family has changed!  I love receiving the photos and I keep them all in my Christmas Scrapbook!!  It is so much fun to see how much families change over the years.  I've started thinking about this years picture and what cards to get - I think I might have the picture nailed but it is a secret -  I've been doing some looking and have found some fantastic products over at Shutterfly !!  There are tons of card options where you can put YOUR family picture or chose one that has lots of room for numerous pictures and don't forget to add me to your list!!  Looking through the options, I came across the following cards and love them all.  Now I need to decide which one will be THE one :

See why it is so hard to decide????  You can find these selections and sooo many more here at Shutterfly.

There are also some other fantastic things at Shutterfly.  You can get some incredible gifts - grandparents LOVE getting Calendars with pictures of the grand kids throughout the year.  Just pick your pictures and plug them into the great Calendar options available! 

We have a 1st birthday party coming up soon and what better place to get our invitations than from Shutterfly!  Look at these great Ideas you can chose from!

I have to be honest, I thought I had mine picked out for Nate - the second picture above but than I saw the first picture . . .and I'm not so sure!!!  I have to order this weekend though, so I'll have to decide soon!

You might be wondering why I'm telling you all of this?  Well, Shutterfly has a great promotion for bloggers to receive free photo cards, how could I not promote the product??  If you want to find more out about this opportunity just check out Shutterfly and read the info!

Song of the Week - Pam Thum; Life is hard but God Is Good

The boys and I listen to a lot of music everyday so i've pulled out all of my CD's and am enjoying them fully.   I hadn't listened to Pam Thum in years - and this is one of my all time favorite songs, ever. There is so much truth in this song and it is just a gentle reminder of the truth that God Is Always Good even when Life is Hard.   Take time to listen, I think you will be touched by it too.  I wish I could add it to my player but it isn't a choice so I added another song by her instead.  She has such an awesome voice :-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness

November 23, 2010
Today I am thankful for my printer.  In a way, this is not true . .. but I'm trying to be thankful in the midst of adversity!  A few months ago we tried out Cartridge World and got ink for 1/3 of the cost.  It worked great.  Than I had to get more, and there was a problem with the cartridge which they replaced.  Another one went bad, Darryl took it back and got a new one .  .I put it in and guess what? It doesn't work!  So I'm trying to be thankful despite the fact that I have things to print.  Instead I'm learning to be thankful and patient until I can get a new cartridge this weekend :-)

Too Cute Not to "Toot"!

By this point of the month I was REALLY expecting to see a lot more Christmas stuff but I know it is all coming!  For now, here are a few more Thanksgiving ideas for you.

Here are some great printables from Crafts and Such.  They would be great in lunches or just stuck to a mirror to show your gratitude.

I'm always looking for teaching ideas and 2 Teaching Mommies have some great ideas if you search their whole site but I also really liked this activity.
It is a dice game to build the Pilgrim and Indian It would be great to keep kids busy on Thanksgiving day
She wears flowers showed two different ideas that I just adored.  They WILL be on my craft list to have ready next November. She shows to different Thankful Books.  One is personal and educational and one is a No-sew idea.
Click here for the tutorial

Click here for the tutorial
Another great blog, Mommy's Little Helper, gives all kinds of great Turkey Learning Ideas.  This picture is just one of her ideas.
There is a fantastic idea over at Parents.com for making a gratitude turkey.  It would make a great addition to any table

Over at  A pumpkin and a princess, she gives a great idea for using pine cones for Turkeys.  So cute!
One of my new favorite sites is Musings of Me.  She shares all kinds of printables for teaching.  Here a few of her current items but you could spend hours downloading anything from her site.

I think that is it for this week - not that there aren't bunches of ideas I didn't even touch!  I hope you enjoy these and visit the sites I mentioned.  Don't stop at just the one link, go looking and find more!