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Saturday, December 16

Ninjabread Cookies & a Giveaway (Ninth Day of Christmas)

On the ninth day of Christmas...

We showed you how to make these kickin' Ninjabread Cookies!

Each year, we make these fun and easy applesauce ornaments with the kids.  It gives them an opportunity to make their own gifts, which they hand out to friends and loved ones.  We also save a few each year to commemorate their current likes and interests.  This year, we're featuring Lego Ninjago and Southwest Airlines...


Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Supplies (we doubled our recipe)

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 200°F. Mix applesauce and cinnamon in small bowl until a smooth ball of dough is formed. (You may need use your hands to incorporate all of the cinnamon.) 
  • Using about 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll dough to 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap. Peel off top sheet of plastic wrap. 
    • If you can't find a rolling pin, you can use a quart-sized mason jar in a pinch.
  • Cut dough into desired shapes with 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters.  Pull away extra dough, then carefully transfer cutout to waxed baking sheet with a spatula.
  • Using the spatula, straighten up any sloppy edges around the cutout.
  • Make a hole at top of ornament with drinking straw, toothpick, or skewer. 
  • Bake 2 1/2 hours. Cool ornaments on wire rack. 
  • Decorate with paint, if desired.  Add magazine cutouts with glue.  Allow to dry.







  • Using a clear spray paint or gloss paint, varnish the ornaments.  This is optional, and will make them last longer.  If you want that cinnamon smell, skip this step.  They won't last as long, but they'll smell heavenly!
  • Insert ribbon through holes and tie to hang.



  • This is part of the Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway extravangza!  Be sure to visit the landing page and enter all of the giveaways!

    Today's winner will receive a Rick Riordan audiobook from the Percy Jackson series.


    Friday, December 15

    Christmas Crafts for Preschoolers & a Giveaway (Eighth Day of Christmas)

    On the eighth day of Christmas....

    My Bored Toddler showed us two great Christmas crafts for little ones!


           

    Gift Tags


    What you need: 



    What to do:

    1. This activity couldn’t be easier! I arranged a selection of the Christmas stickers, handed out the cards and they stuck the stickers wherever they liked. 
    2. For the younger toddlers try to use bigger stickers. I prefer the raised foam stickers as they are easier for little fingers.

    Ornaments

    What you need: 
    • Plain colored Christmas Baubles (we used a mix of matte, glitter and shiny ones)
    • Sticky sequins – make sure you get the sticker version. Gluing on regular sequins is way to hard for a toddler and they don’t stick very well either.


    What to do:

    1. Stick the sequins onto the baubles – try to encourage your toddler to space them out a little big.
    2. Hang on your tree or wrap up as a gift.





    A lovely board book to accompany this craft is With Love, From Me to You, by Mary Manz Simon. With Love, From Me to You is a board book for little ones that will remind them how important it is to love and be loved. With adorable illustrations and sweet, rhyming text by bestselling author Dr. Mary Manz Simon, this book shows children how important their actions and words are in expressing God’s great love with one another. Parents will enjoy reading this book on Valentine’s Day or any day of the year to encourage their children to remember that love is more than gifts and candy; it’s about doing for others and sending love to everyone who’s near.


    "A red heart sends a message that says 'I so love you,' but we can send those same words in what we say and do."  This is a line, and the main theme, of this beautifully-illustrated book that is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.  Young ones, who are just beginning to read, will be able to quickly memorize the rhymes and 'read' it alongside you.  The book is wonderful for Christmas or Valentine's Day, and will become one of your family's favorite read-alouds or bedtime books!

    This is part of the Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway extravangza!  Be sure to visit the landing page and enter all of the giveaways!


    Today's winner will receive a copy of The Beginner's Bible on audiobook.


    Thursday, December 14

    Saving for the Holidays & A Giveaway! (Seventh Day of Christmas)

    On the seventh day of Christmas...

    Our Cozy Den gave us some strategies for saving up for those Christmas gifts.

    It's easy to spend more than we realize during the holidays....one minute you've got a nice, neat, short list of things to get...the next minute, you're being sucked in by lightning deals and Aunt Eunice's forgotten gift (who you forgot last year, too!).  

    Check out these five easy ways to sock away some extra cash for the holidays!

    1. Stock up on FREE gifts.  
      • At least two or 3 times a month, I am offered a free gift from one of my favorite companies, Shutterfly. They offer a TON of pretty photo gifts that are perfect for Grandparents, Aunts, & Uncles. Throughout the year, I upload several of my favorite photos of my kids, along with pictures of the kids with their loved ones. When the email hits my inbox that I have Only 24 Hours to claim my free item, I can usually make and order the item in less than 10 minutes, paying only $3-7 for shipping.  
    2. Trade in FREE points.
      • I also save points for various companies, like Disney Movie Rewards, Kellogg’s, etc. You can also collect points for Huggies or Pampers products, if you buy those, and let your friends and family know that you collect codes, in case they have points that they were just going to throw away! In the fall, I cash in all of my points and usually get 3-4 really nice gifts, and I don’t even have to pay shipping for them in most cases!
    3. Handmade Gifts.  
      • Some of my kids’ favorite gifts were the things I made them for little or no cost. You can make a Lego table, a train table, kids’ artwork displays for grandparents, or one of the million ideas on Pinterest. I also make cute little home ornaments and baby photo subway prints for friends and family. (They make great wedding and baby gifts!)  One way I love to save money doing this is by getting supplies in the clearance section at Hobby Lobby or Walmart.  Another way to do this is with online scrapbooks, printable coloring books, or video collages.  Still other ways include offering your services (babysitting, landscaping, baked goods) or simply the gift of your time (great for older folks).  The possibilities are endless!
    4. Cull the Herd.  
      • It may sound heartless, but you don't have to get a gift for everyone you know!  As finances become limited, you will have to prioritize who gets a gift, and what kind of gift they get.  That doesn't mean that you don't care about the other people; it only means that you'll need to get more creative with them.  Go Christmas caroling and take a small plate of cookies.  Make some memories.  They might even appreciate it more than the book or tchotchke you were going to get...
    5. Keep the Change!  
      • Use cash to pay for items at the grocery store, and stick all of the change into a cider jar.  Do this all year and watch that jar get very very heavy!  You might be surprised to find that you can save $500 or more, just from your change!

    See original post here.



    This is part of the Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway extravangza!  Be sure to visit the landing page and enter all of the giveaways!


    Today's winner will receive the new card game, Unauthorized, to play with family!

    Wednesday, December 13

    Melting Snowmen & a Giveaway (Sixth Day of Christmas)

    On the sixth day of Christmas...

    We brought you a tasty and oh-so-fun recipe to warm up the kitchen!
    When the holidays arrive, we get the itch to bake!  We always bake up lots of treats and hand them out around town....as a gift, as a token of appreciation, and as part of our RACK mission.  This year, we found these adorable Melting Snowmen Cookies!!
    Ingredients :

    Directions :
    1. Cover cookies with white icing, allowing it to drop off the sides (creates melting effect).  Let icing dry 30-45 minutes.
    2. Use black icing and orange sprinkles to create faces on the marshmallows.  Get creative and give them character!
    3. Glue marshmallows to cookies with white icing.  Using black and colored icing, give the snowmen buttons, scarves, arms, and other embellishments.  Let dry at least two hours before transporting.
    4. Complete this melting snowmen craft while waiting for them to dry!



    This is part of the Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway extravangza!  Be sure to visit the landing page and enter all of the giveaways!


    Today's winner will receive a mystery box from the Dr. Bonyfide Know Yourself subscription club!

    Tuesday, December 12

    Cultural Cooking : Russian


    Something a little different this holiday season...we're featuring a traditional Christmas meal from Russia. Pull out your matryoshka dolls, light up the tree, and ... приятного аппетита (Enjoy!)

    Kazakh Chai
    • 6 c Water
    • 6 tsp Loose black tea
    • 6 Cardamon pods
    • 1 1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
    • 3 c Milk
    • Sugar or honey to taste
    1. Combine the water, tea, cardamon, and fennel seeds in a large saucepan and simmer over low heat for 3 min.
    2. Add the milk and 2 min. later, strain the tea into cups.
    3. Add sugar/honey.

    Christmas Sochivo recipe
    • 14 oz wheat
    • 3 oz honey
    • 6 oz poppy seeds
    • 6 oz walnuts
    • salt to taste
    1. Sort wheat, wash and put in boiling water.
    2. Bring to a boil, drain and wash under cold water, bring to boil, cover tightly and put in the oven until soft.  Then take out and cool down.
    3. Wash poppy seeds, scald, wash under cold water and ground until homogenous and white.  Add sugar or honey and a bit of salt.  Combine with wheat.
    4. If sochivo is very dense, add some water. At the end add chopped walnuts.
    Beef Stroganoff
    • 2 1/4 lb beef (boneless)
    • 4 Tbsp flour
    • 4 Tbsp ketchup
    • 5 oz sour cream
    • 2 c broth
    • 1 Tbsp flour mixed with butter
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • salt to taste
    • pepper
    1. Cut the meat into long strips, and beat the pieces a little.  Season and roll them in flour.
    2. Saute chopped onion in a pan on high and, when it is gold brown, put the strips there.  Brown meat.
    3. Saute the flour that you mixed with butter for few minutes, add sour cream, ketchup, salt.
    4. Pour the sauce over meat and stew on a low heat during 15-20 minutes.
    5. Beef Stroganoff is served with fried potatoes.

    Monday, December 11

    Nutcracker Unit Study & a Giveaway (Fifth Day of Christmas)

    On the fifth day of Christmas....

    We gave you a Christmas classic, redesigned for homeschooling fun!
    One of our Christmas traditions is to gussy up and go see the Nutcracker Ballet.  We follow it up with a nice restaurant, and the kids don't even know that they're learning about culture and etiquette.  Good memories, and a nice family tradition...  This year, we've decided to take the month of December off from our regular curriculum and do some fun unit studies.  The week preceding our Nutcracker outing will surely be focused solely on Tchaikovsky and the ballet!

    If you’re unfamiliar with the story, ...Clara receives a nutcracker for Christmas, and wonderful things begin to happen.   There’s the battle with the Mouse King, the nutcracker magically transforming into a handsome prince, the trip to the kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy, and finally the question the next morning of whether it was all Clara's dream.  Was it?


    If you’re want to listen to highlights, I recommend the key dances from The Land of the Sweets.  (The Battle Scene is from Act I, but leads into Act II.)

    Saturday, December 9

    Free Lego Christmas Goodies & a Giveaway (Fourth Day of Christmas)

    On the fourth day of Christmas....

    We gave you some free Lego goodies!!


    Lego Crafts

    Lego Advent Calendar

    • Pop the advent calendar box open on December 1st, and every day you will get to open a door that reveals a "mini-build" for an item to populate the holiday scene.  Legos every day!

    A Holiday Tradition

    Charlie Brown : Christmas special (see note below)

    You can find all of the Charlie Brown holiday specials, as well as several extras (like 'the Mayflower Voyagers,' seen here) onthis DVD collection.  It's one that my children have watched over and over again...making it a holiday tradition for almost every holiday! 



    This is part of the Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway extravangza!  Be sure to visit the landing page and enter all of the giveaways!



    Today's winner will receive a copy of Write from Early Modern History.

    Reader-Freebie
    You can download the Lego Christmas pack for FREE through the form below.  We ask that you do not share the files, but direct your friends to our page.  If you like it, this pack, as well as the other eleven months of the year, can be found individually at our Educents store.  There are also several other Lego-themed products, and a bundle pack at a lower price.

    Friday, December 8

    Christmas Goodies & A Giveaway! (Third Day of Christmas)

    On the third day of Christmas.....

    One of our favorite things to do each year is bake up a multitude of treats to hand out to friends and family around town.  The kids are learning life skills, all while having immense amounts of fun destroying our kitchen!!!  Which then brings us to the 'cleaning' life skill...

    Christmas cookies are always first on the list.  We bake several different kinds, and put a couple of each into every box we give out.  Some of the kids' favorites to make are :


    They also came up with the Chocolate Peppermint Krispies, which are quick and easy to make...and an often-requested treat from the recipients!



    Finally, as a family tradition, when the temperatures are consistently below-freezing, we make our Cinnamon Hot Candy.  This one requires more adult supervision.


    While you've got the oven turned on, and the ingredients pulled out, why not whip up a batch of cinnamon applesauce ornaments.  They'll make your tree smell cinnamon-y delicious for days!



    And while you're baking up all this magic, why not have a crockpot of hot apple cider going in the background?  It'll bring a heavenly scent to the whole house, and some healthy yumminess to end your day!  Have a girls' night out baking party with our six favorites, featured here in the Happy Holiday Baking Party!

    What's your favorite holiday treat to bake up with the kids?






    This is part of the Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway extravangza!  Be sure to visit the landing page and enter all of the giveaways!

    Today's winner will receive a copy of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Canning.