Category Archives: Christmas

Top Posts From 2011

Hope you all had a wonderful CHRISTmas with family and friends and a special holiday celebration as you ring in the New Year 2012. 

Our family had a super special holiday week from CHRISTmas to New Years, as my husband had a week off work to spend with us and we have a new baby to celebrate.  God has surely blessed us. 

I want to thank everyone for joining in our learning journey and reading this website, our pinterest boards, google friends, twitter, subscribers, and more.  We have grown to nearly 10,000 unique monthly viewers this year.  Your support during 2011 has been such an encouragement, and has made this website a great place to share our journey with you. 

Our Top Fifteen Posts For 2011

Christmas Cashew Chocolate Truffles

Volcano Unit Study and Volcano Lapbook

Ocean Unit Study and Lapbook

Garden Bugs Unit Study

How To Create A Unit Study

Christmas 2009 and All Things Robot

Valentine Cookie Exchange

Field Trip To Cochran Dairy

Garden Challenge

Valentine Goodie  Bags

Pumpkin Science

Green Sensory Bin

Snow Sensory Bin

Valentine Discovery Bin

Raw Milk Is Real Milk

I am looking forward to a wonderful year ahead in 2012.

From our family to yours,


This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
ABC and 123
Raising Homemakers

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Dan Nicholas Park

                                          Family Adventure During Christmas Break

I am still recovering from an emergency C section.  But six weeks being stuck in the house is all I can take.  The doctor told me not to drive, not to lift, and to have very limited activity for six weeks to allow my incisions to heal.  I am feeling stronger with each passing day, though severely sleep deprived with a newborn.  I have been out only a couple of times since our baby was born, and sitting inside all this time  is enough to drive me crazy!  

I really wanted to get out and see something special during the Christmas Break.  The company my husband works for shuts down for the week between Christmas and New Years Day, and it is so nice to have him home with us and spend extra quality time around these two holidays as a family.   

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to learn about natural science and history through hands on exploration of the world we live in.  This turns into fun family adventures exploring places all around us.  So yesterday, we went 0n a little day trip to explore the Charlotte, NC area with our children.  Let me tell you the truth: two and a half hours, one way, is a long drive with a van full of kids ages 6 weeks, 3 , 4, 6, 9, and 11.   Whew!  But we survived, we explored, we had fun, and the drive was worth it.


We drove to High Rock Lake in Salisbury, just east of Charlotte.   High Rock Lake is a 15,000 acre reservior of water located on the Yadkin River.  We just got a glimpse of the lake though, because we spent all of our time at an amazing place near the lake called Dan Nicholas Park. 

Dan Nicholas Park hosts accommodations that cover 450 acres.   What a family fun place to visit!   There is so much to see and do, you can easily spend a whole day or a whole week enjoying this place.   This is a great place to visit for a family, homeschool, field trips, and just  fun educational adventures!

Plan to spend at least several hours enjoying this family friendly place.   There is plenty of parking, paved walking paths, clean bathrooms, and concessions.  There is an 80 site camp ground that is open year around, if you want to plan to stay overnight or longer.  The camp ground has tent space, RV space, and cabins.  There are full accommodations and a nice lake to enjoy.  You can read here , and also read here about their campground.   
There are both “free” and “not free” things to do at this park.  If you want to do several things on your visit, you can buy a multi pass and save a few bucks too.  However, several things are seasonal, such as the train and carousel rides and the water plaza, so be sure to check with the park for dates and times. 

FREE Activity

Play on the playgrounds 

Trees to climb

Tennis Courts
Volley Ball courts
Nature Center 

Water Plaza (wading and fun spraying)
Picnic Areas

NOT FREE Activity

Petting Zoo $1
Train Ride $1
Carousel Ride $1
Fishing $1 for resident $2 for non-resident
Paddle Boats $
Miniature Golf $2
Gem Mine $7
Rowan Wildlife Adventures Zoo $0.50 for kids 10 and under, $1 for anyone over age 10
        At the zoo we enjoyed seeing and learning about 
        Eagles, Black Bears, Red Wolves, Bob Cats, White Tailed Deer, Raccoons, 
        Various species of  Hawks, Owls, Wild Turkeys, and more…

Several pictures I took at the zoo did not turn out.  I was carrying the baby, and taking pictures with one hand and holding the baby with the other, and several of my pictures blurred.  I won’t torture you with posting too many fuzzy pictures, but the experience was really nice anyway.  Also, the zoo encourages the public to come during feeding times and they offer special learning programs too.

Because of the winter season, some attractions were closed, and we did not have enough time to enjoy all the ones that were open.  Things we did at the park on this trip were: play on the playgrounds, climb trees, go for a walk, Wildlife Adventures Zoo,
and the Nature Center.

We spent a couple of hours enjoying Dan Nicholas Park and we will definitely plan a future trip to explore more.   We also plan to go back and explore High Rock Lake and several little towns around it.  

Lots more learning and family adventures await!

This post will be linked up with
 No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Raising Homemakers
ABC and 123

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How To Make Jerky

Making Jerky With Kids In The Kitchen.

Do you like Jerky? 

My husband and I have made jerky every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, for as long as I can remember.  I don’t think we are very traditional folks, or have many traditions, but this would have to be one.  Now we have passed this tradition on to our kids.  They enjoy making, eating, and gifting jerky as much as we do.

Jerky is basically dried and salted meat.  It can be seasoned with additional dried spices, or dried fruits to change the flavor or nutrient content.  A lot of water/moisture is removed in the drying process.  Drying the meat allows it to be stored or transported without refrigeration.  By removing the moisture, and salting it, you greatly reduce the possibility of mold or bacteria ruining the meat, resulting in a long storage life. 

The great thing about making it at home, in less than 24 hours, you have something delicious and nutritious you made yourself, and you can control the ingredients and the flavor too.  I personally like to make my jerky preservative free.  However, most jerky is made with preservatives to help prevent it from spoiling, and give it a longer shelf life. 

I have made jerky in a simple process from roasts I cut into very thin strips, soak in soy sauce, salt, and sugar, and then letting them dry in a warm oven overnight.  But by far, the jerky we like the best is made from meat we grind into burger before seasoning it, and dry with our dehydrator.  Either way, after seasoning it, let it marinate for about 4 hours in the fridge to distribute the flavors, before drying.

I usually get about 1/4 lb of jerky for a pound of meat.  Jerky in 1/4 lb to 1/2 lb packages makes a nice gift to give away at the holidays.  My dehydrator will hold about 4 lbs of fresh meat at a time.  But there are plenty of dehydrators on the market today that will hold a lot more.

History and Science:

This is a great learning opportunity to involve the kids.  There is so much to learn about the history and science of making jerky.  Questions to ask as you go along might include what is dehydration, why do we use salt to preserve food, what is the nutritional value of various kinds of jerky, etc.   The history of jerky and civilization is facinating.  Jerky is packed so full of nutrients, that many generations of humans survived on it. 

The Native American Indians would salt and dry the meat, then powder it, and add dried fruit and additional fat back into it, to make PEMMICAN.  It was a very nutritional source of proteins, fats, and vitamins, especially vitamin C which helped them stay healthy and strong through the long winter months.   You can read here and learn more about PEMMICAN.

Dried meat can be soaked in water for soups, stews, casseroles, and other recipes.  It is not just for Jerky. 

We have made jerky from:

Jerky can be made from a lot of other meats too, and in stores, I have purchased Turkey jerky as well.

Using Deer To Make Jerky

In the recipe below, I am using ground deer.  My husband is a hunter and we often have wonderful deer in the freezer.  But you can substitute beef, or other meat, for the recipe.

My family loves to use deer.  It is naturally lean, tender, and tastes great in everything I make with it.  We typically will use a doe or young buck for our food.  I usually have the whole deer ground into burger, but we also like to keep the tenderloin steaks and grill them up just like I would a beef fillet.  Besides eating them as steak, they are great for fahitas, or in any dish you would use with beef steak.

I usually use ground deer just like we would use ground beef or ground turkey:
            sausage for biscuits and gravy, 
            sausage for sausage, egg, and cheese burritos
            summer sausage,
            and of course JERKY

I do not like eating an older “trophy” buck.  Forget it.  The meat is rank with his scent.  However, you can still make jerky or sausage with an older buck, and it will taste good, as the spices hide the scent.

Kids In The Kitchen
How To Make Jerky:

Here are some recipes using different cuts of beef (you can substitute other meats) from around the web:

Flank Steak Jerky

Eye Of Round Jerky

Hamburger Jerky

Smoked Hamburger Jerky

Brisket Jerky


Pemmican with fruit

Here is the process my family uses to make our deer jerky

My family really enjoys the ground meat version of jerky better than using roasts or brisket.  Our next choice is to use a very tender and lean cut of steak, either sirloin or new york strip.  Most folks would think that is a waist of a good steak, but it really is up to you what cut of meat you want to make your jerky from.
To make the process easier, have your butcher grind or slice the meat for you.  Most butchers at the grocery counter will do this for you if you ask.  Or if you have an animal butchered at a butcher shop, they will process the meat however you request it.

Also, when making jerky, remember that each dehydrator, or oven, is
different and times needed to dry the meat can vary according to the appliance you are using.

For our jerky, we start with ground deer burger (you can use beef or whatever you choose).  We have our whole deer ground and packaged by the butcher shop.  He puts the meat in 1 lb packages for the freezer, and we just pull meat out of the freezer whenever we need it. 

Measure spices and salt according to how much meat you are preparing. 

Look around the web to find a recipe you would like to try.  Be sure to measure everything well.

Mix ingredients, according to your recipe, by hand to distribute everything evenly.

Cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator for about 4 hours if using ground meat, and longer according to recipe if using sliced meat.

When ready, if using ground meat, put ground mixture into jerky gun and fill your trays or cookie sheets. If you are using sliced meat, then lay the slices out flat on each tray or cookie sheet.  My dehydrator holds 1 lb of meat per tray.  Cookie sheets will hold more.

Put the cover on and set the timer on your dehydrator.  Or follow directions for using an oven.

For my dehydrator, I plan 6 hours, plus an additional 20 minutes for each additional tray.  So for four trays of ground meat, it takes approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes, or a little more.   Sliced meat takes longer, depending on how thick it is sliced, and the temperature you use to dry the meat.   If using an oven, follow directions in the recipe, as ovens usually take longer.  Dehydrators work faster because they are blowing hot air around the product they are drying, so it greatly reduces the drying time.

When done, remove the jerky from the trays and place between paper towels to absorb any fat or moisture that might remain on the outside of the strips of jerky.

Package in zip lock bags or in jars.  It will keep longer if packaged in air tight packages.  We store our jerky in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use. 

And there you have it. 
DEER JERKY ready to enjoy, take to a gathering, or give away as gifts.  And a great “tradition” to pass on to your kids!

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Raising Homemakers
Science Sunday

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Christmas Day

We had a lovely wintery white Christmas Day.

The snow started to fall in early morning.  We enjoyed a delicious breakfast. 
The children opened their gifts.  We had a very special Christmas even though for the third year in a row, we had very little finances to spend on Christmas.  The bonus hoped for did not come through.  But we celebrated anyway. 

We teach the children that Christmas is special and we share gifts on this day to honor Jesus.  We don’t worship the gifts, or the holiday, but we worship the Son of God.  This is the day on our calendar that we celebrate his birth.  Here is more information from the scriptures about his birth: Read Matthew 1
and Luke 2

I took these pictures about noon and we had about three to four inches of snow already.  We accumulated around 8 inches by evening.  More snow forecasted for the following day.

Absolutely beautiful. 
Soft, but crunchy, quiet, feathery and light, yet frozen cold.

The light came in very bright through the windows as it reflected off the snow.

Warm and cozy inside, my family and I busily prepared our holiday feasts. 
Here my son is poking the baking potatoes with a fork.  Little sister helped mommy wrap the potatoes.

We made a red velvet cake for Jesus birthday cake.

Here my husband is preparing a plate for the younger children.

The snow continued to come down all day. The trees were giving way to the heavy load of snow.  As the limbs got heavier, they would bend down, I could hear a gushing sound as the tree released a huge avalanche of snow to empty off the weight.  An amazing sight and sound. 

Later in the afternoon, the three older boys played in the snow, built a snowman, and had a snowball fight till dark. 

We warmed up with mocha latte and hot chocolate.

Christmas Day Menu
A Special Day Of Feast

Cinnamon Rolls made with sourdough starter and vanilla kefir frosting 
Bacon,  we really enjoy the turkey bacon from Apple Gate Farms it cooks up similar to canadian bacon or ham.  This is a wonderful product, and preservative free.
Scrambled Eggs
Potato Fries
Orange Juice
Mocha Latte

New York Strip Steak , local grass fed
Baked Potatoes with grass fed butter and sour cream.
Salad made with romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, sunflower seeds, crutons.
Raw Vegetables: Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Carrots
Ranch Dressing
Sweet Corn
Creamy Tomato Soup
Deviled Eggs
Cowboy Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies
Birthday Cake for Jesus
Raw Milk  from M and M Dairy
Christmas Punch

Creamy Mac-N-Cheese
Left-overs from lunch

Special Snacks:
Christmas Pretzels
Savory Christmas Popcorn
Deer Jerky
Cashew Chocolate Truffles
Mocha Latte for adults
Hot Chocolate for kids

    Merry CHRISTmas !

                    The Weiser Family.

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Salmon Patties

How to make Salmon Patties or Salmon Cakes.

This recipe makes approximately 8 patties.


15 oz  wild caught salmon.  
    I use Great King Wild Red Salmon.  It has the best flavor and color.  I have also used leftover grilled or 
    broiled wild caught red salmon for this recipe too.  Pink salmon will work fine if you don’t have red.
2 eggs
    I prefer farm fresh free range eggs, but if they are not available, try to get the eggs that say
   high lutien, or high omega on the package.  These eggs are more nutrient dense than other
   eggs in the stores.
16 butter crackers broken into corse pieces.  
    I have tried bread crumbs and other crackers, but these butter crackers give the best flavor.
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freeze dried red onion  
    you can use shallots or thinly sliced fresh onion or onion powder if you wish.
1/4 tsp dried parsley

1/4 cup grape seed oil to fry them in.
I use Spectrum Grape Seed Oil. This is perfect for frying.  It has a high smoke point and is safe for frying.  
You could also use safflower oil or coconut oil.  But I prefer the taste (or lack of taste) and beautiful results of Grape Seed Oil when frying.

Place your salmon and juices into your bowl.   Gently flake the meat apart and mash any bones or skin. 

Add the rest of your ingredients.  Stir gently till mixed.  Let rest about five minutes untill all the juices are evenly absorbed by the mix.

Gently shape a handful of mix into a patty shape.  Don’t press hard or you will end up with a dry patty.

Place patties into a hot pan with hot oil.  Be careful not to get burned. 

Let the patties cook on medium heat for 4 minutes.  Turn the patties over and cook another 4 minutes or until they are lightly golden brown. 

These turn out fantastic !  Better taste and texture than any crab cake ! 

They are cruchy on the outside, and perfectly moist on the inside.   Serve them up with your favorite tarter sauce if you wish.  But they are perfect without tarter sauce!

I usually serve these with boiled potatoes, carrot sticks, and petite peas.  Truly a comfort meal.  These go wonderful with a rice side dish, or pasta dish too.  Sometimes I will double the recipe, and use the leftover patties in sandwiches during the week.

Salmon Patties are great for a meal or snack anytime of year.   The Kids love them, and usually ask for more.  It is also fun for the kids to help make the patties too.  Have them help measure, add, stir, count, and form the patties. 

I served these tonight for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Eve Menu

Salmon Patties (or if you prefer the fancy name Salmon Cakes)
Fried Potatoes
Italian Wedding Soup
Raw Vegetables with Ranch Dip
Peanut Butter Cookies
Cowboy Cookies
Savory Christmas Popcorn

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Happy Healthy Holidays!

Healthy Holidays Everyone !

Its Christmas, and this is so great, I just had to share what Dr. Mercola has to say about how to stay healthy, and reduce your chance of catching a cold, and what to do if you catch a cold.

FREE, simple, clear, easy to follow advice.  Inexpensive remedies you can make/do at home. There is also a free recipe for homemade cough syrup, and instructions for using it with children.

A great Christmas gift he has shared!  Tried and true wisdom, from a medical doctor and researcher, about how to stay well.  Thank you Dr. Mercola.

My heart goes out to everyone during cold season, as it is a vicious enemy that sets families back.  It can take weeks to get back on track.  The scriptures say the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  I truly believe he enjoys seeing families spending their energy trying to get/stay well, rather than being busy expanding the Kingdom of heaven.

As we get together to share the celebration of our Savior’s birth, may you celebrate in good health too.

My prayer for this coming year 2011, for all homeschool families, and all families everywhere, as we live lives that bring glory to God:

3 John 1:2  “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

May you be blessed with the gift of good health this season and in the coming new year.

Happy Holidays, Healthy Holidays, and Merry Christmas!!!!

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Christmas Cashew Chocolate Truffles

Christmas Cashew Chocolate Truffles

First gather your ingredients.


2 cups cashew butter. 
(I used East Wind  Raw Cashew Butter.)
4 Tablespoons coconut oil. 
(I used Tropical Traditions.)
1/2 cup raw honey.    
(I used my favorite sourwood honey from the Blue Ridge Mountains.)
1 teaspoon sea salt. 
(I used Eden Celtic Sea Salt.)
1 15oz can of coconut milk. 
(I used Native Forrest Organic Coconut Milk.)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. 
(I used Simply Organic Vanilla Extract.)
24 oz semi sweet or dark chocolate chips.

Outside Optional Choices:

12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips, melted.
1 cup flaked coconut.
1 cup toasted flaked coconut.
1 cup cocoa powder.
1 cup powdered sugar.


Gather your helpers.

With care and caution when working with kids in the kitchen,
monitor them closely if near the stove or anything hot.

Now melt your “inside” ingredients together over a low heat
stirring frequently till it just starts to bubble.

When it is nice and smooth and has started to bubble,
remove from heat and put in fridge to chill.

When it is chilled, roll the truffle “dough” in your hands to make balls. 
It melts quickly, so work fast. 

I didn’t get pictures of the kids in action on this because I helped and my hands were too sticky to use the camera.  You can see in the photo that some of the balls were in their hands a little to long. 

Now chill again.

Once re-chilled, you can roll them, or dip them,
in the outside coating of your choice. 

Place in mini cupcake papers for a pretty display.

Enjoy these yummy
Christmas Chocolate Cashew Truffles
with friends and family. 

A perfect treat to take to a family get together,
made by your children,
with “warm” loving hands.

Merry Christmas !

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Christmas Pretzels

Christmas Pretzels

Almond Bark for dipping
Chocolate Chips for adding to almond bark and dipping
Peppermint candy or candy cane

Melt almond bark in glass covered bowl in microwave for 2 minutes.
Melt again for 1 minute if needed. 
Stir again.
Leave covered for a few minutes.
Stir again.

While your almond bark is melting, put peppermint candy into a ziplock bag.
Cover with a towel.
Pound the towel covered candy.

Pound again.

Pound again.

Pound again.

Pound again.

Pound again, with all your might.

Finally, put your powdered candy into a bowl.

Dip pretzels into almond bark. 

Set dipped pretzels on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Sprinkle dipped pretzels with powdered candy.

Add chocolate chips into the remaining almond bark and melt for 2 minutes.


Repeat process to make chocolate dipped Christmas Pretzels.

When they are dry, fill your containers for gift giving.

Be sure to separate out the broken ones.

Enjoy these for yourself.  They make a yummy snack.

Here is a frugal secret. 
If you buy your ingredients at a dollar type store, or on sale, these are very cheap to make. 
This recipe will make four nice tins of pretzels, and it costs under $3 a piece per gift, including the tins.
Or reuse your previous tins, and this gift would cost $1 a piece.
Now that is a lot of fun, plus something special to give away, for very little money.

Oh, Christmas Pretzels are so yummy.

So sweet and crunchy.

Merry Christmas !

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Savory Christmas Popcorn

Want a delicious snack
Christmas Eve?

Try Savory Christmas Popcorn and it is sure to please !!!

If you plan to watch a favorite Christmas movie, or have a get together, why not share a delicious bowl of popcorn?  So simple, yet so satisfying.

Start with 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels.  I like to use organic white.

Put two tablespoons of coconut oil in the bottom of your pan. 
Melt over low heat.
I like to use Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil.

Add in the 1/2 cup popcorn and raise heat to high setting. 

Stir the popcorn to be sure it is coated with the oil. 

Cover with a lid.

I use a heavy professional stock pot made by Scan Pan.

In a few minutes you will hear it start to pop.  Do not remove lid. 

Give the covered pot a good shake every 30 seconds or so. 

Listen for the popping to almost stop.  Should take about 2 to 3 minutes. 

Remove pot from heat and carefully remove the lid.  Keep your face back incase it pops again or incase steam is released when you remove the cover.

Immediately pour popped corn into a bowl.  This prevents the popcorn from burning, and from getting soggy from the steam in the pot.

I like to work with two bowls.

Melt 1/2 stick of butter. 

Put about two cups of popped corn into second bowl, and drizzle with a spoon of melted butter, sprinkle with sea salt, dried parsley, and Herby from Simply Organic. 

Continue the process until all the popcorn is transferred to the second bowl and coated with the topping.

Hands down, this is the best savory popcorn you’ll ever eat ! 

No one will be able to escape its delicious temptation and you better make an extra batch or you may not get any before its all gone!

My kids love this!  

Merry Christmas!

This article was a guest post at “What’s For Dinner” with Mara.
Click Here To Go To Whats For Dinner.
Thank you for the opportunity Mara!
Please check out her wonderful food blog.  She is a school teacher, wife, and awesome food blogger
with wonderful photos and recipes.

For more popcorn information, and Christmas ideas, check out my article published here

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Christmas Bells Sort

Sort bells by color and size.

We started with a bowl full of bells. 

Josiah tested each one for sound, and we talked about their color, and size. 

He practiced scooping the bells with a large spoon, and a measuring cup, from the bowl to a Christmas tray.

Next, he walked around shaking the bells to hear how they sounded different.

The colors of our bells were gold, green, and red.
The sizes were: 
        small round shaped gold
        small round shaped red
        medium round shaped green
        medium bell shaped gold
        large bell shaped red

Each size and shape made a different sound.

Josiah practiced putting the bells in order from smallest to largest.

Next, Josiah practiced putting different bells through a funnel to fill a container.  He especially liked the medium bell shaped bells for this activity.

We talked about how many bells would fit into this size container.  

Next, we counted the bells as he put them into the funnel.

Then we switched to a larger container and practiced some more.  Josiah understood the larger container would hold more bells than the smaller container.

This sorting game is good practice for:
        eye hand coordination
        size sorting
        color sorting
        sound recognition
        building confidence

and good for a cheeeeeeesy smile! 

I just love it when he gives me his best smile.

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