Here are some recipes that are easy to make and yummy to eat!
EZ Cheese Ball
|Meredith Ludwig Curtis||
We often gather together to welcome in the New Year.
Here are some recipes that are easy to make and yummy to eat!
EZ Cheese Ball
It is time to celebrate! We celebrate because we are loved! We celebrate because God is good! We celebrate because we are safe in His love! Let's celebrate with the Lord and His Word so that we can bring in the New Year with style!
Another year is over and a new one is about to begin. The world has its way of celebrating this transition, but God has a better way! No matter what has happened this past year, God has been faithful to you! Even if you don't believe that right now...it's true!
Jesus is our Promise Keeper! He has protected you this past year from untold tragedy, misfortune, and peril. We look at all that has happened, but so often we don't think about what might have happened. Maybe you lost your house this past year, a terrible thing, but you still have your family. Maybe you lost a loved one this year, but you are not here in the world alone. Imagine the destruction that could have come your way that the Lord prevented.
If we could only see with spirit eyes the battle all around us: angels protecting our health, lives, loved ones, possessions and honor. We can only see what God allows to make us stronger in Him, not all that He keeps the enemy from inflicting. I encourage you to enter 2012 with worship, prayer, and God's Word. Why not gather together on New Year's Eve with other believers who are serious about the things of God. Seek His face together as the New Year starts. Forget the ball dropping in Times Square! How about worship instead!
Right now our church meets on Saturday nights because we share a building with another church. So, our usual Saturday night celebration will be followed by a party. Then, as the hour approaches, we will gather together to worship and pray. We will welcome 2012 with Jesus in the center of our celebration.
Sitting here while the family sleeps on Christmas morning. So thankful for my Savior who was born so many years ago into an enemy-occupied Israel who was waiting for a strong military Messiah who would rescue them from the Romans.
Instead, my Jesus came to rescue men and women from a the worse enemy-occupied problem of sin. Your Jesus came declaring freedom and paid the price for your freedom and my freedom by dying on the cross and rising from the grave! We are free! May His love fill you to overflowing this Christmas and may you experience the grace and freedom He came to bring.
Happy Birthday! I am so thankful for your grace and favor in my life! I cannot begin to imagine life without You! You have washed me clean and made everything brand new. You have taught me to love you and other people. Thank you. Jesus, when You teach me from Your Word I am amazed.
You are the greatest gift I have ever received!
I wish I could gather every star in the Heavens and lay them at your feet. I wish I could bring all of the gold, silver, precious jewels and costly treasure and wrap it up for you today. But, instead, I bring you all that I have: my heart, my life, my dreams, my plans, my ministry, my family, my friends. Everything I have is Yours. Have Your way in my life.
And until the end of time, Jesus, I will love you best. Happy Birthday!
And to all of my dear friends, Merry Christmas!
(Meredith Ludwig Curtis)
From our home to your home, I want to wish all my dear friends and family a very Merry Christmas!
_"Kiss the Son lest He be angry," it says in Psalm 2. If you step back and look around at the world, no one seems very concerned with getting right with the Son, born in Bethlehem. People mock Him, take their stand against Jesus. He certainly arouses anger. He cannot be mentioned in public gatherings or quoted in school. His authority is mocked and ridiculed.
And yet, Jesus still has all authority in Heaven and earth. Though the nations rage, one day they will give an account to the One who laid aside His glory and in humility, came to this dry, dusty planet to bring life to a people who were dying.
Looking for a simple craft? I got this idea from my friend, Sheri's blog and website, SheriGraham.com. (Please check out her website for lots of holiday fun!)
You simply need some graham cracker squares, sugar cones, canned frosting, and candy to decorate. We frosted the graham cracker and placed the sugar cone upside down on the graham cracker. Next, we frosted the graham cracker with green frosting. Candy of all kinds (gum drops, M&Ms, Skittle) were our "ornaments."
_We did this in our homeschool coop with lots of older kids. I thought they wouldn't like it but the they loved it. EVERYONE made one! So fun!
If you are looking for a fun activity to do with your children before Christmas, try this out and make a memory! :)
"Is this going to take long?" Katie Beth asked for the fifth time that day.
"We'll take the pictures as soon as possible," I replied tersely.
"And why are we wearing pink? We did pink in 2005," Julianna interrupted.
"Can you help me with my tie? Jimmy handed me a tie that was now too small for his ten-year-old neck. Trying to remember....I think he got it when he was eight.
"Is Daddy ready?" Shine reached for my mascara, thinking I wouldn't notice. I did, but didn't say anything.
That was last year's annual family Christmas photo--more stressful than a hurricane; less stressful than a war zone. Wait a minute...maybe as stressful as a war zone.
There have been moments in those annual photo shoots that lives were in danger. Ah, our character is revealed to one another and our photographer as we take the picture ONE MORE TIME because someone's eyes were closed. It is no small miracle to take a good picture with seven or more people in it! And, of course, I have to admit that I contribute greatly to the tension. I am so picky about what everyone wears, not just colors, but shades of colors, where they stand, and how they smile.
The End Result
But the end result is always so lovely. There are friends who write me notes in October reminding me that they are looking forward to our Christmas photo. They must know that I am tempted, sometimes, to skip it this year.
We take between 20 and 50 shots to get one good shot for the Christmas card. It is so discouraging for everyone to find the "perfect picture" of themselves, only to have the photo unacceptable because of someone else.
_ ½ Cup Butter, softened
½ Cup Honey
1 tsp Grated Orange Peel
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Allspice
½ tsp Nutmeg
Dash Ground Cloves
1 Cup Pecans, finely chopped
1 Cup Dates, chopped
1 Cup Candied Cherries
½ Golden Raisins
½ Candied Pineapple
2 Cups Fine Graham Cracker Crumbs
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and honey until light and fluffy. Add orange peel, salt, vanilla, and spices; mix thoroughly. Add fruits and nuts; stir in. Add graham cracker crumbs. Let stand for 3-4 hours so flavors can blend. Shape into small balls. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator, separating layers with waxed paper.
_ Candy Cane Cookies
This is a yummy cookie recipe that looks so pretty on a plate of cookies. I love to serve this at Christmas teas.
1 ¼ Cup Sugar
1 Cup Butter
½ Cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Peppermint Extract
3 ½ Cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Salt
½ tsp Red Food Color (plus more to the color you desire)
Cream together sugar and butter. Add egg, then milk, vanilla, and peppermint extract. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough in half.
Stir food color into one half. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Preheat oven to 375 º F. For each candy cane, shape one rounded tsp dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on clean surface. (Don’t use flour or it won’t stick to the other half) Place one red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist.
Place on prepared cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until set and very light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack and cool completely.
Christmas is here and it's time to go Christmas shopping. Yes, our intention was to be finished by now and have the presents neatly wrapped, but, even if we've begun to shop, there are still people on our lists.
We often do a unit study in December and take lots of Christmas field trips. Part of our Christmas homeschooling is making gifts. We have made wreaths, ornaments, quick breads, cookies, and, even, perfume. All the gifts we made for folks fall on the subject of homemaking or art. You can teach sewing, serging, quilting, cross-stitching, baking cooking, canning, and handwriting during the gift-making process.
Gifts to Give to Neighbors, Friends, & Extended Families
Next week is Christmas! There is so much left to do. By now, homeschooling is finished until after New Years Day except for that child that is "catching up" on math or some other subject because they are so behind! But is school ever over? What things does God have to teach us and our precious children this holiday season.
Gather around, dear friends, and let me share some Christmas lessons.
There's not always time to do everything we want to do!
So many Christmas dreams beat in our heart! If you are like me, you want to be the "perfect mom" doing all the perfect Christmas things and making our family enjoy the best of everything Christmas has to offer. There is simply not enough time to do it all. As God to show you what beats in HIS heart and to order your schedule. No one will be heartbroken if you do not make Aunt Edna's Cole Slaw on Christmas Eve, but maybe the homemade eggnog is just too yummy to not make. Try simplifying recipes and traditions so that preparation time is shorter and family togetherness time is longer.
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps," (Proverbs 16:3).
God often supersedes our plans for better plans!
We made our plans, tie them snugly to our heart, and put our whole heart into bringing them to pass. When inconveniences or surprises happen, they catch us off-guard, making us hurt or angry. But, God is on the throne of your life! Only what He allows to happen, happens. Even if it is an attack of the enemy, it has to get through God's protective hands, so relax when your plans change. I hate this as much (maybe more!) than you! But I know in my heart of hearts that when God disrupts my plans, He is often testing my heart. Will I respond with a submissive, obedient heart or will I fail the test. Make plans, work to bring them to pass, but, ultimately, leave the results to God. He is good at running your life!
Christmas is all about worship!
When you think about the Christmas story, it always brings us to the act of worship. The Shepherds came to see the baby Jesus because worshiping angels announced His birth! The Wise Men followed the star to bring gifts to the baby Jesus (worship!). When Mary was informed by the angel that she would give birth to the Messiah, she worshiped, writing a lovely song that songwriters for centuries have adapted in one way or another. When Elizabeth saw Mary (with Jesus in her womb!), the baby in her own womb (John the Baptist) lept for joy (worship)! Anna and Simeon waited at the temple to see the baby and when they did, the worshiped God. Every part of the Christmas story leads to worship!
Christmas is the season to worship at church!
"We just travel somewhere on Christmas Eve. I roast a turkey or chicken. We eat finger foods...." My new friend, Laura paused for a breath.
"What a beautiful way to remember Christmas Eve with Mary and Joseph traveling so far. I love your family tradition." I clasped my hands together joyfully. In my imagination our whole family was traveling to Bethlehem...on donkeys!
"Well, you could join us this year," Laura invited. "We could meet..."
I rushed home to tell the family about our brand new Christmas tradition.
I even looked in the Yellow Pages for donkey rentals. This was the year of our Lord Two Thousand and people still used land lines and the Yellow Pages.
"Go to the beach on Christmas Eve? Isn't that a strange way to celebrate Christmas Eve?" Julianna replied when I asked her what I thought of the Nolette family's invitation.
Give yourself a merry Christmas present that will make a difference in the year ahead. Face 2012 with a clear conscience and a zero credit card balance. Don't go into debt this Christmas.
Why do we go into debt at Christmas? We think that we have to spend money to make our Christmas enjoyable. We need money to buy lights, trees, gifts, food, drinks, and tickets to travel home. Yes, Christmas celebrations do take some money.
But, we can do much more than we realize to keep costs down. Check our my earlier blogs, 'Tis the Season to be Frugal I and 'Tis the Season to be Frugal II.
Realize that debt may provide a few extra ingredients for a Merry Christmas, but will leave you in bondage come the New Year. Debt assumes that you know better than God because He provides for our needs. Use the money you have available for your Christmas celebration. If you don't have any money, pray for God's provision and keep your eyes open for His answer to prayer.
Throughout the years Christians have celebrated Christmas as a holy day. A day to remember that Christ was born of a virgin after laying His glory aside to become a man so that we could live through Him. A miraculous star led the wise men to come to worship Him. Let's unplug the Christmas machine and make Christmas about Jesus our Savior again.
Resolve to stay debt-free this Christmas and keep your eyes on Jesus.
(Meredith Ludwig Curtis)
What fun to open stockings at Christmas! There is something about putting your hand inside and wondering what you will touch. Enchantment and wonder seem to go along with Christmas. What makes Christmas so special? Often, what warms our hearts are the memories of Christmas traditions.
"At Christmas, we always..."
Mary remembers a favorite Christmas before her grandmother died. The whole family gathered together and enjoyed warmth and laughter. Her cousin sent a huge smoked salmon from Washington state. Mary's Dad went out and bought all kinds of fresh seafood and they feasted on crabs, scallops, shrimp, and crab cakes. To remember this special Christmas, Mary enjoys bagels and smoked salmon for breakfast every Christmas morning. As she bites into the smoky fishy treat, she remembers her grandmother with joy and that pleasant Christmas Day so long ago. It was the last Christmas they were all together.
Barbara remembers baking cookies with her mother. There were certain traditional cookies baked year after year: oatmeal lace, almond crescents, toffee bars, snickerdoodles, and gingerbread cut-out cookies. The cut-out cookies were her favorite. When they were finished, mother and daughter were covered with flour, even on their eyelashes. It would take hours to clean up the kitchen. Barbara made these same cookies with her son, Billy. Now, she makes them with her grandchildren.
Shirley remembers new pajamas, opening them on Christmas Eve and wearing them to bed. She found out later that her mother had an ulterior motive. She wanted the children in clean, fresh pajamas for all those Christmas morning pictures. Now, that Shirley is a mom, she does the same for her children. Two generations of lovely Christmas morning pictures. If only they would brush their hair.
Do you want to combine hands-on-learning with celebrating Christmas? Then plan some special Christmas field trips for the month of December! Almost every store, museum, bank, business, and church decorates for Christmas. Just going on your weekly errands, you can discuss Christmas decorations. You can observe whether these places are saying, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." You could even collect data and make a bar graph! Every place is more fun to visit at this festive time of year because it's all decked out!
Even Christmas shopping can be educational if you start with a budget. Your children can make a list and check it twice, comparing sales, and sticking to the money allotted.They can do the same with holiday grocery shopping!
We love to visit all the craft fairs that take place this time of year, especially at the church bazaars where the little old ladies bake pies, cakes, and cookies. Nothing is better than those homemade goodies! Not only is it fun to look at all the art and crafts, but we often get ideas for making our own Christmas gifts.There are always special holiday events that can be found in the newspaper or online.Several cities nearby have "Tour of Homes" where you get to visit lovely homes decorated for Christmas.Often they serve hot drinks. Going at night is usually the best because of all the candlelight and twinkle lights. There is so much history to learn on these tours, as well as information on architecture and remodeling.
Holiday concerts, plays, and productions are annual events in your city that you and your children may have not yet enjoyed.Our local community college, Seminole State College, offers free holiday concerts that are wonderful! There is always a band concert and a chorus concert. We dress up and enjoy the music! They also have a free Messiah sing-a-long that we have enjoyed participating in. There are soloists picked before hand, but when you arrive, you get your free copy of the music and head to your section: soprano, alto, tenor, or bass. You can also just listen. We have attended many free church performances in our area. The talent in the Body of Christ never ceases to amaze me. There are also concerts and plays that are excellent for free or a nominal fee.
There are so many ways to simplify the holidays to not only cut cost, but to decrease stress.
When I host my annual Christmas party this year, I will have all the guests bring a dish to share. This will cut my expenses and make it easier to prepare for the event.
When the extended family starts talking about Christmas, I will suggest that we draw names and only give that person 1 gift that has a price limit on it. This will instantly chop down the amount of shopping I have to do.
"Look at this beautiful picture book!" I gasped as I opened the unexpected package that had arrived from the mailman as we were leaving for homeschool coop.
"C'mon, Mom, we're going to be late...Wow! That is beautiful! Where did you get that book? It's amazing!"
We brought it with us, passing it around in the car. I gazed at it intently every time I stopped at a red light. We were are entranced by the pretty artwork.
I was so excited to finally be able to sit down and study each page carefully. It made me feel little a little kid again. I wish I had learned U.S. geography with this book. It made everything so simple!
I wasn't the only one in the family who couldn't wait to sit down and spend time curled up with this book. Little Man in the Map was one of the most popular items with my children that I have reviewed!
And so began our introduction to The Little Man in the Map by E. Andrew Martonyi. This large and lovely picture book is the most creative way I have ever seen to learn the fifty states. Of course, I do love well-written beautifully illustrated picture books. Is there anyone who doesn't love them?
This book is filled with little clues to help you remember the fifty United States of America. Betcha didn't know that there is a state shaped like a chair, another like a cup, and one state is even shaped like a dining room table. But you have to start with the Little Man in the Map.
And just who is this Little Man in the Map? Well, I won't tell you, but I will give you a clue. Look carefully at a map of the United States and you will see him in the center facing east.
What follows are fun clues to help students find and remember the location of all the states on the map. Of course, the center of it all is...The Little Man in the Map!
This is a fun, innovative way to learn United States geography. The book is illustrated by Ed Olson. I loved his artwork--bright and colorful! His animation is happy and fun! Take a look at some of the book's illustrations at Design Loft Studio.
It's Christmas time in our home school! Today, we'll finish up our journey through the Curtis home to experience Christmas with us.
I love my family, especially at Christmas. I began homeschooling in 1991 because I wanted to spend more time with my delightful children. Now, almost twenty years later, I am experiencing such good fruit from my homeschooling. My home is filled with children who love one another and love spending time together. And, they love hanging out with Mom and Dad. My children dress modestly for Christmas parties, like wholesome movies, and know the words to all the verses to every Christmas carol. We love to do our traditional Christmas devotions and sing Christmas carols.
It's Christmas time in our home school! Let me continue our tour of the Curtis home.
In the dining room is something that is an embarrassment to some of my dear friends. What is it you ask? Well, so glad you are interested. I have a pink Barbie Christmas tree surrounded by Barbies who are Christmas caroling. In fact, last year, I have a singing Barbie Christmas tree. But, this year I have added to the pink tree and caroling barbies, a house, sports car (for heading to Grandma's house), nutcracker, and sleigh. Every room in the house is decorated with barbies baking or celebrating Christmas. Yes, it's true! This whole area is slathered in pink twinkle lights.
Our Christmas tree is always real, smelling of luscious pine. Though the needles get everywhere and make my husband sneeze, he still gets a tall fresh tree every year. I look forward to unwrapping the gifts that are piling up under the tree, anticipating the faces that will be delighted to open each present with his/her name on it.
My house just looks like Christmas! And it smells like Christmas too. Shine and Kate make lots of cookies. Aisha is always whipping up a treat or two. Julianna and I made Cinnamon ornaments last year to delight and tickle the nose with their fragrance.
More than Tastes & Smells
Meredith Curtis, homeschooling mom & worship leader, is married to her college sweetheart. She is blessed with 5 amazing children, 3 adorable grandchildren, and an awesome church family!