This Month's Featured Resources...


ChristmasHistory BundleChristmas Latin Latin Calendar

Tuesday, December 30

Molasses (Hush Sound)


How about a simple cookie recipe to bring to that New Year's Eve party?  These will help you kick off the New Year with healthy intent....

Oatmeal Molasses Cookies

  • 2 c. all purpose wheat flour
  • 2 c. oatmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • mini chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Stir together flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt.
  3. In another bowl, mix sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and molasses.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients.
  5. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes.  Cool on baking rack.
**Recipe to turn them into homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies.**

These healthy cookies are so good that Cookie Monster is chasing them!

Monday, December 29

Christmas Wish (She & Him)


Ahhhhh.  The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas - a scourge to teachers and students alike.  Whether public, private, or homeschool, I challenge you to find a learning environment that runs like a machine during this time frame.  

Everyone is excited about the impending winter break and holiday merriment!  No one, not even the teachers, want to trudge through the daily grind.  So what's a teacher to do?  Why - make it fun, of course!  The kids knew they had to do school, but they didn't mind with these fun activities.  Now that we are on break, I can look back and say, they may actually have learned something.  Gasp!
Each boy was provided with a Lego catalog, an ordering form, and a pencil.  They had to write down item numbers, price, and tax for their entire wishlist.....then tally it up!  (Don't tell them it's math...)  All I have to say is, these kids better get a job quickly if they want to support their Lego habit!  We also accessed several Christmas 'school' ideas, like this spelling unit, on SchoolhouseTeachers.com.
They were required to build a trap to catch these gingerbread men that kept running around the house singing "Run, Run, as fast as you can...you can't catch me...!"  FINALLY, we set upon a trap that worked!  The gingerbread men were tasty.  :)
We continued our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, and made a game out of how many people we could RACK each day!  Some days it was people in blue shirts, and other days it was specifically kids that were being toted around while their parents finished Christmas shopping.  The gifts shown above went to random adults.
I wish we could find pictures of the last gingerbread house I attempted to make with the kids....since it looked as though it'd been hit by both an earthquake and tornado, we dubbed it the "Oklahoma House," and it's a thing of family legend.  Suffice it to say, when our artistic son wanted to make a gingerbread house this year, he asked to do it A.L.O.N.E.   (L.O.L.)  He created this from scratch, using leftover Halloween candy that we had set aside for crafts.  He even made the fondant wreaths and trees, and hand-dropped all of those tiny icicles!  If you're a great cake-designer, then this probably looks like child's play to you.  However, I am truly impressed --- and design-challenged.

While he created this masterpiece, his brother and I struggled to put together a 100-piece puzzle.  We all have our unique skill sets!
We painted picture frames to take to the nursing home and made a wooden lawnmower for Daddy.  He wanted a new lawnmower for Christmas, and this was the closest that the boys could fit within their budget!  We also found these stained glass characters in Grandma's art closet and made wind chimes from them.  We used sticks from the yard and some hemp twine to bind everything together, and made "Spring Garden" and "Snoopy" art! 
In the church pageant, one son played Santa Claus.  The other played Joseph.  I thought the character assignments were a good fit!  Santa learned all about the true meaning of Christmas from the Holy Family.  My mother used to have a book and statue, called Santa and the Christ Child, which was my favorite holiday decoration....so I loved the ending of this pageant.

Friday, December 26

Here We Come A-Caroling


It's the most wonderful time of the year!  Right?  Well, sometimes, we forget that's not the case for everyone.  Case in point, the majority of residents at nursing homes are left alone and lonely during the holiday season.  Too many of the residents don't receive visitors, let alone gifts, and we wanted to change that this year.  Granted, it was only one home, and we only brought small gifts.  But it made a difference to those folks for that day...
Our trio of boys spent time at home creating cards for each of the home's fifty residents.  We also purchased bags of sugar-free candy and made up goody bags for everyone.  Finally, we found small gifts (picture frames, holiday pens, puzzles, etc) for each person.  At the facility, we greeted everyone and spent some time wishing each person a Merry Christmas!
This was a new experience for the boys, and one that they were ultimately uncomfortable with.  Many of the residents kept trying to "trade" something for the youngest because he was "so adorable!"   He didn't like that.  The older boys weren't comfortable with all the requests for hugs and kisses...  We moms, however, were happy to hand out hugs!  So many people, elderly and young alike, just need to be touched.  Hugs never go out of style!

Based on our experiences, we are toying with the idea of setting up an Adopt-A-Grandparent program with the local nursing home.  It would give the boys more opportunity to do compassion care, and also fill an emotional need for some of their residents.  Have you ever done the Adopt-A-Grandparent program?  If so, would you be interested in sharing your experiences?  We would love to hear from you!!

Tuesday, December 23

Hard Candy Christmas (Dolly Parton)


When we were kids, it was a winter tradition to make Daddy's infamous Red Hot Candy.  This stuff would burn your mouth, but it was oh-so-delicious!  He would always make two batches....one with just a little bit of cinnamon oil, and one to "put hair on your chest."  Think mild and hot salsa...  Nowaways, when the freezing temperatures come around, the first thing I want to do is make some of daddy's hot candy.  I'm bringing this from my house to your's....it's not just for Christmas, but the whole winter through. 

 Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups light caro syrup
  • 1 tsp food coloring (we use red...your choice)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon oil OR 20 drops Young Living cinnamon oil
  • 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
**You're also going to need a candy thermometer...nothing fancy, just something simple.**

Directions

  1. Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. pan with foil; spray the foil with cooking spray and set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine water, sugar, corn syrup and food coloring. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar crystals.
  2. Uncover; cook on medium-high heat, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 300° (hard-crack stage), about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in cinnamon oil (keep face away from mixture as oil is very strong). Immediately pour onto prepared pan. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.  We typically do this on a VERY cold night, and leave the pans outside to harden in the freezing temperatures.
  3. Break the candy into pieces using a hammer (pound lightly). Sprinkle both sides of candy with confectioners' sugar. Store in airtight container.
My dad and I....circa 1984.  This is at the very same spot that I recently took my own children...

Friday, December 19

The Merriest (June Christy)


Yesterday, we brought you some quick & easy treats to whip up with the kids.  Today, we're featuring a sneaky cookie....they're good for you and won't make your kids have a sugar crash.  Plus, they taste like a cookie should!
But don't take our word for it...try them out!

Apple Ginger Snaps

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup flax meal
  • 1  tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp clove
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (for topping)
Grating fresh ginger
  1. Mix sugar, oil, molasses and applesauce.
  2. In another bowl, mix all dry ingredients except oats.
  3. Combine the two bowls, and thoroughly mix.
  4. Pinch of pieces of dough and roll into balls.
  5. Once all the balls are on the pan, use your palm to flatten them.
  6. Sprinkle with rolled oats.
  7. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
We used the leftover dough to make a mini-pie.  It was delicious!

Thursday, December 18

Baby, It's Cold Outside (Pearl Bailey)



Looking for a kid-friendly cooking project to warm up the kitchen on a cold day?  We've got two of them for you today!

Easy-Peasy Snickerdoodles

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup cinnamon
  1. Dump the first four ingredients in a bowl together.  Mix well.
  2. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl.
  3. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into a ball.  Roll in cinnamon sugar, then place onto pan.
  4. Repeat until all of the dough is gone.  
  5. Using your palm, flatten out each ball.
  6. Bake 10 min at 375 degrees.

Quick Apple Dumplings

  • 2 tubes - crescent rolls
  • 2 apples (cored & cubed)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Unroll crescents, and spoon a tablespoon of apple into each.  
  2. Fold the corners in to close the dumpling.  
  3. Arrange each dumpling into a 9x13 pan.  
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon.  
  5. Mix butter, sugar, and orange juice in a medium pan and bring to boil.  
  6. Stir in vanilla.  
  7. our mixture over dumplings.  
  8. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until crust is brown and juices are bubbly.  
  9. Extra tasty when served with ice cream!

Mini Cherry Pies

We had a bit of extra dough leftover, and the oldest used some jelly tins to make itty-bitty cherry pies.  He got this idea from a book we used to read, many years ago, and has been doing it since.  Pop some dough in the tin, chop up a maraschino cherry, cover it up, and bake for just a couple of minutes!

Friday, December 12

Incense & Peppermint (Strawberry Alarm Clock)


Chocolate Peppermint Krispies

Winter came much too early this year!  The kids and I were digging through the house, trying to find a baking project to pass the time, when we created these treats.  We pulled out various ingredients and decided to try our hand at a new dessert...and it turned out to be excellent!!  We hope that you enjoy them as much as we do...

Ingredients

Directions
  • We used a double boiler to melt down two bars of chocolate....it works better if you break the chocolate into smaller bits before putting it into the boiler.
  • Once it was good and melted, we added ten to fifteen drops of peppermint oil.  This made a pretty strong, but delicious, coating.  Vary the number of drops based on preference.
  • After laying out each of the pre-packaged treats on wax paper, we dipped each one into the melted chocolate.  We kept stirring the chocolate occasionally to keep it flowing.
  • After getting a first dip, covering one entire end of each treat, we went back and spooned chocolate all over the top of each of the treats.  Then we left them on the wax paper to cool.
  • Dust with powdered sugar to give it a snow effect -OR- garnish with peppermint crumbles!
  • We still had chocolate left, though, and it'd be a shame to waste perfectly good chocolate!!!  We scrambled through the house and found a bag of pretzels, and made up some chocolate covered pretzels right there.
I will say...with the peppermint, the pretzels weren't so good.  Maybe it was the combination of salt with the other flavors.  The krispies were delicious, though!  My youngest took some to his speech teacher, and she was inclined to agree...  

Bon Appetit!