Christmas Cookie Exchange


If you haven’t been to one already, a Christmas cookie exchange is probably in your future.  If not, host one!  Thanks to the women in my Bible study group, I have a collection of recipes that are perfect for a last minute cookie exchange.  These treats are easy, delicious, and some are even gluten free!  Yes, those gluten free ones are tasty too.  ;)


IMG_0487[1]First up, cute rice cereal Christmas tree pops.  In addition to the usual rice cereal treat ingredients, you’ll need green food coloring, cinnamon candies and craft sticks.

A classic staple is a molasses spice cookie. Here’s a great – easy – recipe for a cookieIMG_0485[1] most, if not all your guests, are sure to love.

Another favorite is the peanut butter cookie with a chocolate treat in the center.

IMG_0488[1]For a twist on this traditional peanut butter pastry, try adding cocoa powder and red sanding sugar.  Aren’t they beautiful?

If you’re looking for something “healthy” to bring to the exchange, try these glutenIMG_0484[1] free options:  ginger spice cookies from PaleOMG and dark chocolate coconut bites from Inspired Dreamer.

Some cookies not pictured were Vanilla All-Spice Thumbprints (Be careful with these!  They’re tiny and very good so it’s easy to eat a lot of them.), Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies, and Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies.  Putting Nutella in a peanut butter cookie?  Um, genius.

What is your favorite cookie to take to a cookie exchange?  Do any of these recipes look like a new favorite?  I hope so.  My Bible study gals and I had a great time eating cookies, drinking cider and talking about our holiday plans.  I hope you’re able to attend or host an exchange as well!

Paleo Chili









This recipe comes from The Dawn of Paleo. I halved it for my family of three and made mashed potatoes on the side. It was a great opportunity to use some of my crockpot chicken broth. I didn’t have tomato sauce, so I used tomato paste and added some water. I also switched celery for the sweet peppers. Note to self: put sweet peppers on grocery list.
It’s a relatively quick chili that can be cooked in a large soup pot rather than the slow cooker. I didn’t have enough time for that. Yes, I procrastinated.
This recipe reminds me…I need a new can opener.




Let Santa Come to Christmas

“Christmas has nothing to do with dancing elves, reindeer with red noses and snowmen who sing.”

I started a Christmas reading plan a few days ago from the You Version Bible app. It was going well, until today. The sentiments above are just a sampling of what the author shares as she discusses how Mary must’ve felt after Gabriel came to her. Or as the author puts it, “divinity invaded humanity.” I think he goes too far, though.


The devotional content goes on…

“Either Christmas is a bold-faced lie or it is ultimate truth. It can be nothing else.
Either the manger should be placed in the same category as elves, jolly old Saint Nicholas and flying reindeer … or it is absolute, divine and eternal Truth.
Christmas is not about the holiday spirit that rushes toward us the day after Thanksgiving and compels us to shop, spend, and eat.”

I agree that Christmas is not only about the shopping and eating. Does anyone really think that? But do Santa, my Christmas tree, stockings and a stuffed elf spy have to be completely separate from God and Christmas? If so, why have them at all? I don’t think I’d like to visit the author’s house during the holidays. Bor-ing.



The ornaments on my tree are so much more than money spent. When I look at them, I see the star topper my husband and I picked out for our first Christmas together. I see memories hanging on boughs and branches. Souvenirs from travels God has allowed us to take. Some from our families of origin, some from the pre-kiddo days and others from more recent years. Many are gifts from long distance family who wish they could be closer; figurines that represent interests or hobbies. Isn’t God in that?

IMG_0528[1]When I look over at the mantel. I see three hand made (thankyouverymuch) stockings, each one a representation of its recipient; the fabric thoughtfully chosen. I see personalized receptacles ready for tiny gifts, hand picked by the giver. Can’t God be in that?


IMG_0530[1]When I search the first floor, I find a small, plush elf hidden by my husband. Is he only there to teach the gospel of good works? When I see him, I see anticipation and silliness. Is he on the shelf? By the window? In the tissue box? I see fun! Surely, God is in that.

And Santa. Oh, Santa. Sant Nicholas. Did you know he was at the Council of Nicaea, defending the divinity of Christ against those who claimed He was only human. Look it up! Google it! Go ahead, get out your Encyclopedia Britannica! St. Nick was a bishop AND delivered gifts to the less fortunate. Santa loved Jesus! Now, that’s divinity invading humanity.

The day after Thanksgiving doesn’t bring a rush of holiday spirit that “compels [me] to shop, spend, and eat.” Nope. Actually, this year it was on the Sunday before Christmas. ;) We put up the tree, decorated and listened to holiday music. Together.

Divinity does invade humanity. But not just at Christmas and not separate from everything but the nativity.


You Version reading plan:
“Joy! To your world! A Christmas Countdown”
Carol McLeod and Just Joy Ministries.

Classical Conversations Weeks 5 through 10

It’s time to play catch-up.  Here’s a compilation of our supplements for Classical Conversations weeks 5-10.

Weeks 5 & 6



We don’t check out very many books related to our history sentence because we also read coordinating chapters in Story of the World.

George Washington dot-to-dot.



5 senses  This Pin was inspiration for a lapbook component.  You can find tons of lapbook templates here.

We used this printable as a diagram for our lapbook.

Five Senses Jiminy Cricket video.


Skip Counting Printables

There are several more ideas and videos that Nugget and I didn’t even get to.  They’re all here on my Pinterest board.

Weeks 7 & 8


Missouri Compromise videos here and here.

Books about the War of 1812 and the Monroe Doctrine are hard to find in the library’s juvenile section.  Go figure.  ;)


This is a printable we used for our urinary tract lapbook component.  And here’s where I found the one we used for the circulatory system.

Got to love School House Rock!  Here’s the cirulatory system.

Dover Publications has great coloring sheets detailing the different systems of the human body.  Urinary tract & What Is Blood?

Fine Arts:

I personally cannot wait until tin whistle time is done.  Nugget is in his final year of Kindermusik and I appreciate his instructors and the classes so much more after experiencing CC’s instruction for the tin whistle.  We did use a few printables for printing the treble and bass cleffs.

There’s more where that came from on my Pinterest board for weeks 7 & 8.

Weeks 9 & 10




This YouTube channel features short videos about each of the 50 states.  We watched the one on Alaska.  Was it any good?  I dunno, Alaska…

Here’s a site with Lego representations of each of the 50 states.  Kids probably won’t get all the references, but if your student likes Legos then he/she might not care whether they make sense.


A printable for the squares

A printable for skip counting the squares


Watching Bill Nye episodes brings back memories…Here’s the one on respiration.

respriratory system printable

We used this printable for the respiratory system component in our lapbook.  And this one for the lymph system.

Fine Arts:

For a yummy review of the types of notes, make them whith cucumber slices and pretzel sticks (we used veggie straws).

Let’s Review:

My Pinterest searches for CC review games have been very productive.  We tried this one for week 9, using pattern blocks.  Still, the review games that Nugget likes most are the ones that yield big points.  Even though he’s the only one competing!  :)  Any ideas we didn’t get to can be found on my Pinterest board for weeks 9 & 10.


Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Weeks 3 & 4

For Classical Conversations (CC) weeks 3 & 4, let’s start with art!  :)  For your introduction to abstract art via Kandinsky, check out my Pinterest board.

Here is one of the ideas we tried.

Why not have the kids do a hanging version of Kandinsky?

After making a few Kandinsky chains, we took them on our next nursing home visit and gave them as door decorations to the residents we visit with regularly.

The link for this idea is to an item on Etsy, but the item is no longer available.

Okay, now for the books!  Here are some that we enjoyed for history:


History videos:

Liberty Kids Boston Tea Party on YouTube.  LK The Intolerable Acts.  LK New York New York (Declaration of Independence).

Disney video, Ben and Me – so cute!

Here’s a link to a YouTube channel with videos about each of the 50 states.  Awesome!

Here are two links to images that we used for our anatomy lapbook.

3 kinds of muscle

nervous system

School House Rock Nervous System

And then there was… math.

Here’s a fun skip counting printable.  Does anyone else have trouble with the 7’s and 8’s?  Maybe it’s just me.

I think that about covers it!  Hopefully these links and ideas will help round out your CC lesson plans.






Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Weeks 1 & 2

This year, we began yet another co-op; our third in as many years.  I have a good feeling about this one, though.  It’s our local chapter of Classical Conversations (CC).  CC is a national homeschool co-op organization modeled after the classical education.  A great intro to a classical education can be found in this book, A Well Trained Mind.

Product Details

We are in the Foundations program of CC.  The bulk of the learning is memorization.  The students memorize a timeline of world history (6-7 events each week) beginning with creation.  And this is where I should probably mention that CC is a Christian organization.  :)  They also memorize a history sentence each week and the subject of the sentence coordinates with the year’s cycle (we are on cycle 3 this year, United States history).  There are memorization facts or sentences for Latin, english grammar, science, math and geography.

For week 1 of cycle 3, the history sentence is about Christopher Columbus.  Here are some books and video resources we used:





Of course, there’s a School House Rock video for practically every subject and there’s even a YouTube channel devoted to it.  Here’s one about the Pilgrims.


This video link is enlightening and yet, I think, still age-appropriate (grade 1 and up).

For the science portion, we are working on a lapbook about human anatomy.  The CC science for cycle 3 covers human anatomy for weeks 1-12.  These are links to diagrams:

types of tissue

axial skeleton

For the fine arts portion, we covered the basic shapes of drawing and mirror images.  Here are some links to mirror image printables:


You can find these links and more on my Pinterest board for weeks 1 & 2.


In addition to our memory work and coordinated extras (i.e. all of the above), we are using Saxon for our math, Explode the Code for phonics and Story of the World for history.  A reading list for using SOTW with CC can be found here.

Hearty Breakfast Sandwich

sausage & applesauce biscuit

Yesterday and today, we have feasted on sausage and applesauce biscuits for breakfast.  They are super simple, grain-free, dairy-free and protein packed!  The recipe for the biscuits can be found at  Just click here:  I make mine smaller than Julie suggests so, I get about 6-8 in a batch.  You’ll want to adjust the cooking time.  Check them at 12 minutes.  The sausage is Earth Fare breakfast sausage.  I add a sprinkle of Lawry Salt because Nugget thinks it’s too spicy.  ;)  Just brown it in a pan on the stove.  For the applesauce, we used 10-12 apples picked while on a trip to a local orchard (central Indiana folks click here).  Peel them, core them and toss ‘em in a slow cooker.  Add 1/2 cup water, 2 heaping tsp of cinnamon, 1 tbl of honey (preferably raw and local), 1 tsp of vanilla, and a generous pinch of salt.  Cook on low for 6 hours, stir occasionally.  The honey and vanilla add a lovely, smooth, floral taste.  If the variety of apples you are using have a stronger flavor (i.e. Jonathan or Granny Smith) you may not need the honey.  To assemble the sandwich:  allow the biscuits to cool at least 5 minutes then gently slice in half.  Spoon some of the sausage onto the bottom half of a biscuit.  Just a spoonful of applesauce for the next layer and then smush the biscuit top on there.  Biscuits can be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container.  To make the sandwich with leftover biscuits, just slice them straight out of the fridge then place under a low broiler for a few minutes or in a toaster oven.  Continue assembling as before.  Enjoy!  If you’ve never eaten sausage with applesauce, you have no idea what you’ve been missing!