As Advent begins in our home for this season, so does the decorating. Today, we are hanging up decorations in my both my classroom and around the house. The goal is not to just decorate for the birth of Jesus and celebrate Him, but to also be together as a family.
We are cutting out 3-D stars to hang behind me in my classroom in Christmas paper. We have included a pattern to download above. 5 cutouts make one star. The solid lines are the cuts and the dotted lines are the folds.
We have found that HOT GLUE works best to hold these together. Be careful with those little fingers.
We chose to use a twine to tie around them to hang. You can hot glue a ribbon and make them into ornaments or you could make some and leave them in a bowl as a centerpiece.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls – These are a simple and easy dessert to take to a Christmas party. We normally make these and get them in the fridge and make cookies in the oven while these are chilling.
2 cups peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 package of Chocolate bark or 2 cups of chocolate chips (our preference)
Mix the peanut butter, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl. I use my kitchen aid mixer. 🙂 Mix well.
Add in the powdered sugar, a little at a time. You may need to add a bit more or a bit less powdered sugar. You have enough powdered sugar when the mixture holds together well in one giant ball in your mixing bowl.
Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or until th
ey firm up.
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Cover and refrigerate again, for about 15 minutes.
Melt the chocolate according to the package directions.
Dip the peanut butter balls one at a time into the melted chocolate. Place the dipped peanut butter chocolate ball onto wax paper.
Let the chocolate harden.
If you are not serving right away, you can chill until ready to serve.
KrisandLarry.com presents 6 different Christmas cookies/desserts for your cookie exchanges – Chocolate topped Toffee
Another tasty treat in our house, Although we do not make it terribly often as it is very rich.
It is a GREAT gift wrapped up in a bag with a bow for a last minute gift for someone this Christmas.
1-1/4 Cups (2-1/2 sticks) butter
1-1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt (I use pink Himalayan)
2 Cups semisweet chocolate chips
Optional: 1 Cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans or peanuts (or a mixture – )
Pink Himalayan or Flaky sea salt, for garnish
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Do not skip this step or you will be stuck to everything!!!!
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Let butter melt and sugar dissolve and bring to a boil, then cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, so the butter and sugar don’t separate, until mixture turns a medium amber and is thick, 12 to 15 minutes.
Pour toffee mixture onto a prepared baking sheet and immediately top all over with chocolate chips. Let sit 2 minutes so chocolate begins to melt, then spread chocolate all over with a spatula to create a layer on top of toffee.
Sprinkle all over with almonds and pecans (use chopped crumbs too for nice texture!) and salt.
Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour, then cut or break into pieces and serve.
Living with a larger family full of kids and critters and homeschooling the whole crew, a house can get in disarray and fast.
Here is an age-appropriate chore chart to help get you back on task. We recently re-implemented this with even our older kids as a reminder of what we can all work on together. (We did not add any pet or farm responsibilities here.
Start with taping the googly eyes on the umbrella. Then, tape the battery pack to the umbrella and wrap the string of lights around. Then hang and wrap the ribbons, tulle and streamers to make the tentacles. This is a fast and inexpensive costume. Many items can be found at the dollar store.
Welcoming in the new year at our homestead is a fun event. We are not really “party animals” and do normally spend New Year’s Eve with our kids at home. We play games the entire day and eat homemade finger foods (like homemade egg rolls, meatballs, chips and dips, etc).
This year, we had new games added to our collection including Steampunk Munchkins, Timeline – American History, The Ticket to Ride expansion for 1910 and Oregon Trail. (Yes, I know! Not the standard games that everyone else had in their collections – But we are a gaming kind of family and have all of those standard Sorry and Monopolies too!)
So for hours and hours, we spend time as a family…. What have I learned while playing games with my kids? I have learned that I don’t like playing against Griffen in Munchkin… He is RUTHLESS! Trystan still does not play well with others and cheats his way through every game that he plays. Larry remembers all of the rules to all of the games that we play…. He is filled with folders of useless knowledge too. I know that Rowan and Elwyn are very competitive, but will help you out on teaming up on games. I know that Shelby LOVES to just sit and play any game, anytime with anyone. Berlyn does not always play well with others. Breckin is a good sport and will not only play games with his sisters, but will dress up for one of the princess games with them.
Upon the ringing in of the New Year, we make it outside to bang pots and pans and yell Happy New Year…. then come in and drink “kid champagne” AKA Sparkling Apple Cider.
This morning, we woke up to 2 new baby goats on our homestead! Declan (one of our registered Purebred Nubians) and Ava (a Registered American Nubian) had 2 baby girls…. We are thrilled to have already added to our homestead this early in the season….
“Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving”
— Gail Tsukiyama
Kris Mazy-Fullmer and her husband Larry were married 18 years ago.
“It was not in our plans to have children, but it was it God’s plan,” Mazy-Fullmer said. “I was on birth control, but our first child (Shelby) was born just before our first anniversary. After Shelby came, she was so amazing, she changed our minds instantly.”
The Chino Valley couple now have five biological children, two adopted sons, and are occasionally foster parents too.
“After all our kids were born we adopted our two sons, Breckin and Trystan,” Mazy-Fullmer said. “Both brothers were severely abused both physically and mentally. I know God gave me these boys so we could be loving parents to kids in need. I didn’t realize how much love that we have to share.”
She has homeschooled most of her children, they are also in 4-H and they keep busy with the 400 animals they have on their acreage.
“The kids each have their own animals to take care of,” Mazy-Fulllmer said. “My daughter Elwyn is our ‘goat whisperer,’ she milks the goats every morning and night. Our son Griffin is my engineer, he builds and repairs all of our barns, etc.; Rowan is in charge of all the baby chicks, she feeds, waters and collects eggs; Berlyn (who is autistic) just has a way with horses and he trains with Horses with H.E.A.R.T. for the Special Olympics. Breckin is our 4-H Bunny Boy and takes care of all the rabbits. Trystan is so very intelligent and he is my snuggle monster, and Shelby is now in college and also works full time.
“We live in such an entitlement society these days, and we are teaching our children that it takes a lot of work to live. They all know how to cook, bake bread and raise animals,” she said.
Besides taking care of all her children, through the years Kris still took the time to get a college degree. The family grows all their own food, which she cans and dehydrates. All meals are made from scratch.
“I do all this because of all the allergies, and food intolerance with some of the kids. Elwyn is allergic to red dye; Trystan is gluten, sugar and lactose intolerant; Berlyn and Breckin both have to have sugar and dye free food too. Everything I do, from my photography (to give them memories), my cookbooks (she has written three) is to better their lives, and getting my degree is to help my special needs kids. Your life is what you make it. But my husband is my rock, I couldn’t do what I do without him. He is an amazing husband and dad.”
Mazy-Fullmer shared that she came from a small family so she thinks her large family is phenomenal.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child and it is true, my parents, and my sister and her husband live next door and are very active in our kids’ lives,” she said.
“I think I was put here to be a mom. I love each of my kids differently, they are each individuals, with their own special talents, and personalities, and they are all gifts.”
Welcome to 2016! And Happy 12th day of Christmas!!
This year on our homestead, we are working really hard to get self sustaining and be able to offer more animals, produce and eggs to our friends. It has been a great year! We have pressed the “easy” button and made life simpler which is this busy mama’s long term hope for the family. (And by simpler, I do not mean easier, but rather slowing down the CRAZY and drinking iced tea on my porch, watching chickens peck the ground and kids playing outside.)
What are our goals for our homestead this year? We know that most of these won’t happen this year… but we are all hopeful.
add tilapia to our aquaponics system (right now, we have just goldfish in there.)
add an additional aquaponics system
Add a solar system to the aquaponics system(s)
build another greenhouse
build a smoke house
add 5 more raised garden beds to our garden
build additional quail house to house at least 150 more quail
purchase a second cabinet incubator for all of the eggs that we have been hatching
publish 2 more books
plant and tend our garden
not go to the grocery store from May until October (and we are well on out way! I just got a call that our 1/2 steer will be ready to pick up in mid February from the butcher. Our pigs will be going to butcher in March too. My freezers will be FULL!)
learn to make sour cream and purchase a cheese press to make cheddar
raise turkeys to sell (we have 80 eggs in the incubator right now.)
raise coturnix quail to eat weekly for our family
Continue to homeschool our amazing kids (minus Shelby who is in college and is being joined by Larry in college this spring to get an additional degree)
continue to offer our home as a foster family for kids who need us