Tag Archives: holidays

Happy New Year

As your new year begins, our family wishes you hope and joy and peace.

Happy New Year

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry SauceI don’t know about you but the holidays aren’t the holidays without some yummy cranberry sauce. Now, let’s be clear about one thing. If it comes in a can and stays in that shape, it is NOT cranberry sauce!

Cranberry sauce starts with cranberries. The real things!

Add some orange juice and a little bit of white sugar. Simmer and voila! Cranberry sauce! Seriously – it is that easy.

Miss L is the one who enjoys cranberry sauce as much as I do and it is now her job to make the cranberry sauce for meals. She is pretty good at it. And I sure do enjoy eating it.

Cranberry Sauce

In fact, since it is so hard to find cranberries during the year except in November and December here in Texas, I buy several bags and put them in the freezer. That way we can make lots of cranberry things, including yummy cranberry sauce, throughout the year.

I won’t leave you without the simple recipe, though.


Cranberry Sauce recipe










For a printable copy of the recipe, click below.

Cranberry Sauce recipe PDF


Enjoy making fresh, yummy cranberry sauce.

At Home.

Dinner Wreath

Christmas Dinner Wreath

We had a yummy wreath for dinner the other night. Miss J actually asked for 4ths of it but it was all gone by that point. The bright red and green colors made it so Christmas-y!

It had fresh broccoli, green onions, red bell peppers, and crumbled goat cheese inside of crescent rolls. Yummy! I wish I could claim the recipe because we will be making this again but I can’t. It was found by my MIL in one of the newspaper inserts on Sundays. I don’t know which one so I can’t even link to the article. (I left my copy of it at their house!) If I find it, I’ll link it for you. Definitely a keeper recipe.

The girls had fun helping put this together. Paired with homemade chicken soup, this was a hit!

Merry Christmas!

At Home.

The Gift of December

Yesterday, I was privileged to guest post over on my friend Michele’s blog, Family, Faith and Fridays.

I love sharing about books any chance I get. And when Michele asked for some guest posts for December, while her family was very busy with some exciting changes in their lives, I was excited to be able to help her out. Since it is December, books are a huge part of our traditions in this month. I shared about those over on Michele’s blog: The Gift of December – Favorite Books.

family traditions


I’d love it if you’d visit the post and see what other wonderful things she shares on her blog. There is a lot to encourage everyone.

Thanks, Michele, for allowing me to share with your readers.

At Home.

Christmas Fun, part 2

This week seems like it has been go-go-go and it isn’t over yet. This weekend will be much busier than the week has been! While it often feels like we aren’t getting any schooling done, I know that we are doing a lot and there is much to be said for hands-on and field trip learning. That real life visual of something is priceless!

Some of the things we have done this week so far:

Look at my Santa!

Look at my Santa!

Making a Santa just like my sisters have.

Making a Santa just like my sisters have.

Making gingerbread men for Cheer Buckets at church and helping put those together for the shut-ins from church

gingerbread menCheer Buckets


Concerts – a symphonic band at a large university and a community band that has a wonderful Christmas concert every year; Santa almost always shows up at a good concert

Santa visit

2015-12-07 21.14.52

2015-12-08 19.22.582015-12-08 19.22.42


And who can resist being elves, reindeer, or snowmen?
photo fun at the mall

We also attended a tea party/birthday party for a special young lady and did several other holiday related activities this week. Lots of fun! What have you done?

At Home.


Linking up with Christmas Fun. Click below for more Christmas Fun ideas.
Our Worldwide Classroom

Torn Paper Nutcracker

Torn Paper NutcrackersSeveral years ago, one of the girls made a torn paper Santa picture. Miss J saw it the other day when we were decorating for Christmas and wanted to make one. We decided to change it up a bit and I had to figure out the best way to instruct the making of it.

Miss L background

I gave each of the girls a piece of paper. I also gave them the Kwik Stix but you could use paint, crayons, markers, whatever you want. The only instruction I gave them was to make a background for a nutcracker. That very general instruction landed four very different interpretations. I did a background of wide stripes. Miss E did some color blocks and some candy canes. Miss L created an entire scene. Miss J did a simple outdoor scene.

Miss E background background Miss L

nutcracker in progress


Then I put the construction paper on the table and told them we were going to tear the paper to make the nutcrackers. We could not use anything other than the construction paper and our hands to shape the paper. We used glue sticks to glue the pieces onto the backgrounds. After a couple of grumbles, we got going and the grumbles soon turned to laughter. By the end of the project, I was hearing requests for more of this type of project.


torn paper nutcracker Miss E torn paper nutcracker by Miss L torn paper nutcracker by Miss J

This was a fun little project that didn’t take a ton of time but yielded very fun results. Use your imagination and you could apply this idea to any number of settings. We’ll be doing this again soon, I imagine. Perhaps with a Santa.

At Home.

Crafts / Handiwork Ideas and Tutorials

A Christmas Tradition: Nightly Story Time

Nightly Story Time


We have a wonderful Christmas tradition: we read together. Our tradition and our book choices for this year are featured today on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. I’d love for you to head over there and read more about our tradition.

At Home.


The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics -a TOS review

The Nutcracker titleWhat is November and December without The Nutcracker? We have yet another addition to our collection of Nutcracker stories with this new release by Maestro Classics.

Maestro Classics brings classical music and stories together in a unique blending of arts. Recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Stephen Simon, we are given a beautiful production of the story of The Nutcracker. Narrated by Jim Weiss, it is just as much fun as his other narration works. We were sent the CD for the purpose of this review but you can also download this production.

This product comes with the CD in a trifold case that has a pocket for the pamphlet that comes with it. The pamphlet contains the scenes of the ballet. There is a short history of ballet and a short history of the harp included. You will find a copy of the musical theme from the overture. With a history of Tchaikovsky and a couple of games, the pamphlet provides enough for a short unit study.CD, inside cover, pamphlet

The music is beautiful and very well performed. It follows the story the way we are used to for the most part, though as with most Nutcracker stories there are some variations. The variations are part of what makes these stories and the ballet music such fun. The narration happens over the music, which I personally did not care for but it does help students to follow along with the story. It also helps the listener to hear some of the musical themes if they are not familiar with The Nutcracker.

This disc is quite different from the others in the Stories In Music series by Maestro Classics. All of the other discs we have enjoyed tell the story and some educational materials are included. It might be a history of the music or the composer. It might be information on the musical themes. Sometimes it is background information on how a story came about. We have loved these parts of the discs. In fact, these are what makes Maestro Classics unique.

The Nutcracker diverges from this format in a major way; all that is on this disc is the music of the ballet. It is only performed once and there is no instruction on music themes or story lines with an opportunity to list. There is no discussion of the composer, the background, or the history. This is really quite disappointing and not at all what we have come to expect from Maestro Classics. I realize that the music for this ballet covers a whole lot more time than some of their others works, but it is a missed opportunity since there are so many rich musical themes in this work.CD cover

The music is beautiful and if you are not familiar with the story of the Nutcracker or the ballet, this disc does help it be a bit more accessible. Perhaps if your family is not in the habit of studying classical music or ballet music, this will help your students. Personally, though, while the disc is very well done, I feel that the other titles in the Maestro Classics Stories in Music line would be better choices. This is disc is missing the educational piece which I have come to expect from Maestro Classics.

Maestro Classics is a fantastic company with wonderful products. I wholeheartedly suggest checking out their titles and using them to help bring the stories and music to your children. And don’t forget to visit their website. They have created curriculum guides to go along with most, if not all, of their titles. They have the one for The Nutcracker up. It has links to video, audio, and other articles and games. It includes ballet, history, geography, math, science, and language arts. This curriculum guide is going to make for a wonderful unit when we study The Nutcracker as a unit in a few weeks.

At Home.


Visit Maestro Classics on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaestroClassics
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaestroClassics
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/maestroclassics/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/maestroclassics

Read more reviews on The Nutcracker and on Peter and The Wolf from the Review Crew.

Maestro Classics Review Crew Disclaimer

Patriot Day 9/11

**This post was sponsored by Family Christian. All thoughts and ideas are mine.**

As you read this, Patriot Day will be less than a day away. I kind of waited to post this because, if you are anything like I am, it has snuck up on you. It always sneaks up on me, even when I want to be prepared!

I have a plan for Patriot Day this year and I am sharing my plan with you. Feel free to use it or adapt it. I am sharing it in case someone needs a plan so that you can honor the memory of those who died but also honor the lives that are put on the line every single day to protect and help anyone who needs it.


Matthew 25 – This passage contains two parables of Jesus: 1) the ten virgins, and 2) the talents. Particularly delve into the passage of the talents in verses 14-29. We will be discussing what “talents” we have that God has given us and how we use those. I plan to have the girls brainstorm what each other is good at. (I realize that ability is not the use of the word talent in this passage but we are utilizing the story to talk about the girls’ abilities, focusing on whether they use then to benefit the kingdom or hide their talents out of fear.)

We will also review what Jesus is telling his listeners in verses 34-40: look for ways to help others because sometimes the need is right in front of you and you just don’t see it.

Considering these verses, each girl will create a Talent Plan. This is a plan that details a single talent of their choosing and how they will use that talent for blessing someone else. I have created these printables to help the girls:

Talent Plan Talents

Click here to get a PDF of these pages.
Talents PDF

Talent Plan PDF


We will view the same video that we took a look at last year. It can be found here.

We will discuss the historical view of 9/11 and the people behind the murders. We will talk about the people that lost their lives that day and those family and friends who lost a loved one. We talk about these people; they get left out of the discussion about that day but they are still having to live every day with that loss.

We will look at the timeline found here.

I’ll also pull out a scrapbook that I made from a visit to Ground Zero that I was able to make with my mom and sister in 1993.

All of this is important for the girls to know and remember. They need to know who to pray for and what to pray. J prays every night for the “bad people to turn and be good.” The terrorists are some of who she is praying for.


The girls recently had the opportunity to help a sister in Christ celebrate the fact that she received her American citizenship. Mrs. Lou worked hard to be called an American. Her story is amazing. The girls were priviledged to hear Mrs. Lou talk about the hard work it took to get to America, the overcoming that was required, and how proud she was to be able to now call herself an American. But with this priviledge, Mrs. Lou recognizes that she has responsibility: to help others in her country of birth. To hear Mrs. Lou talk about the work she and her husband do and the ways they hope to expand that, well, we want to help. It would be a wonderful way to help remember those who lost their lives as Americans and those who put their lives on the line every day in America.


I always ask the girls to create something to help them remember important events or history discussions. Last year, the girls created some beautiful reminders.

remembering 911 L remembering 911 J remembering 911 E bookmark remembering 911 E

I am sure they will do the same this year. I will use Family Christian’s boards on Pinterest to help give the girls some inspiration.

This year, we will have a twist to our reminders, though. I am going to ask the girls to create remembrances to give to the first responders in our community – our firefighters, police, sheriff, and EMTs. These folks lost brothers and sisters in the terrorist attacks that day and they still put their lives on the line every single day. They don’t stop to ask who the person needing assistance is. They don’t make decisions based on anything other than the fact that the person is in need. And that ties right back in with Matthew 25:34-40 – When we do something for those who need it, we are doing it for Jesus.

Some suggestions: cards, store-bought and individually wrapped items, and bottled water or Gatorade. I am almost certain that one of the giggly girls will ask to make treats for the firefighters, law enforcement, and/or EMTs. Unless you know for sure, considering the climate in our country, it is probably best to not take homemade treats without checking with your local departments and firestations. But, maybe we can use this idea from Long Wait for Isabella, another Family Christian blogger.

If you have a special person you would like to honor, Family Christian has some great gift ideas. Check out their store local to you or shop online.

Whatever you choose to do, don’t skip Patriot Day. The future of our country is being challenged daily. Teach your children and press forward in memory.

At Home.

Connect with Family Christian:

Making Valentines – Sharing Joy

Making Valentines

Valentine’s Day is a day to show others that you are thinking of them and want them to have some joy. We are blessed to know lots of folks that we want to have joy in their lives. So, we spent the other day making some very special valentines to share. We mailed off a bundle of them to other kids on the Review Crew and have some for them to hand out to their friends. They came out so cute that we wanted to share with you what we did.

Ginny (what the giggly girls call their grandmother – pronounced with a hard G sound) saw a cute way to make hearts in one of the newspapers and told us about it. It involved using a heart template, the eraser of a pencil, and an ink pad. You can also see a bundle of tutorials on Pinterest. The girls really wanted to make hearts this way but they also loved sharing jokes with their friends last year. We decided to combine the two and make them pretty and fun all at once.

Making valentines 3

We printed out valentines from All For The Boys. She had two different versions up and we used both of them. One is black and white; the other is in color.

Making Valentines 2


We trimmed them up and then turned the girls loose with the pencils, hearts, and ink pads. They stamped hearts on the back each of the jokes.

While they stamped, I cut some glittery paper to be a frame behind the valentines. We punched a single hole in the paper and joke and tied it all together with a ribbon. The girls put names on the backs and signed them.

Fun, simple, & easy = best Valentine cards. At Home.

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