In many countries around the world, folks celebrate Three Kings Day on January 6. Also called Epiphany, this holiday is the celebration of the Wise Men’s visit to baby Jesus after a long journey following a star.
Did you know that the 12 Days of Christmas starts on December 26 and lasts until January 6 when people celebrate Epiphany? It’s true! For many families, the Christmas celebration doesn’t end until Three Kings Day.
Why did Christians start celebrating Epiphany in the first place?
Well, back in the olden days, Christians wanted to remember the story of Jesus’ miraculous birth and what it meant to each one personally. To make Christmas more special, they spent the season of Advent fasting and praying. It became a time of spiritual preparation to go deeper with the Lord.
The fasting ended with the feast of Christmas, special church services were held and people rested from their work. The 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany were filled with saints’ days so it was eventually thought of as 12 Days of Christmas followed by Epiphany, another day to have a special service and celebrate.
Here are the saints celebrated by the Catholic Church between Christmas and Epiphany. The Protestant Church doesn’t celebrate holidays for the saints.
Festive Crab Ragoon Party Dip
One of my favorite bites at any Chinese restaurant is the Crab Rangoon. I know it’s not “authentic Chinese food” but I love it. When I found a recipe called Crab Rangoon Dip, I was intrigued.
Fast forward a few weeks and it’s almost time for the Annual Church Christmas Party. The adults all get dressed up, bring fancy food to the buffet, play games, take pictures, and enjoy one another’s company. My husband and I have come to this event joyfully every year for 20 years. This year I thought, “What could be fancier than hot Crab Rangoon Dip with Toast Points?” I’m glad I did. Judging from the empty dishes we brought home, I wasn’t the only one who was glad.
There was one problem though. My son’s fiancé is allergic to cream cheese and that’s a main component in Crab Rangoon. I’ve learned about a great substitute cheese which she can handle. It’s not as tangy as cream cheese, not quite as firm but it works well in every recipe I used it. It’s marscapone cheese.
As you look over the ingredients you may be tempted to elect the simpler pre-shredded packages of Monterey Jack Cheese or Parmesan Cheese but it does make a difference. My dip was smooth and creamy, as it should be. The processing of shredded cheeses causes the dip to be a little grainy. It’s not that appealing to me so I always try to avoid that.
Another cost savings tactic is to buy “crab meat” or “lump crab meat”. They both will work but you need to go through that meat very very very carefully to remove all the shells and cartilage. Nothing will ruin you dip faster than having to pick those out while your eating it.
My local grocery store has a wonderful bakery where they offer sour dough bread made in round loaves and sliced thin. It’s perfect for this recipe. I cut the bottom crust off each slice of bread then cut the slices in a starburst pattern which yielded eight triangles per slice.
Try the recipe yourself. You’ll love it!
Happy Birthday Creator-King
What makes a birthday special for the birthday person?
What makes a birthday special for party guests and family?
We enjoy picking our favorite foods for dinner, giving presents, and throwing a party with games and laughter.
In our house, we also like to play the Encouragement Game at birthdays.
What is the Encouragement Game?
The Encouragement Game is focused on just one person at a time. Everyone else in the room shares things they appreciate and admire about the that person. It is so uplifting for the one being encouraged. And for those being encouraged, it makes us feel valuable and loved.
We like to focus on Jesus on His Birthday! It's such a privilege to remind Jesus of Who He is and all that He means to us!
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NASB).
We praise Him because He created all things that exist whether we can see them or not! Jesus not only created all things; He is in charge of all things! Jesus is our Creator-King!
The First Celebration
Christmas Gift Guide: Astronomy
Do you have a little astronaut running around your house or a star gazer who pours over astronomy books?
Are you wondering what to get your little astronomer for Christmas?
I have some great ideas for you.
These are some fun gifts that any little space lover will find delightful.
The Uncle Goose blocks are simple wooden blocks with painted planets, moon phases, or constellations painted on, but they are so much more! There is so much information on them! For anyone who is really interested in space science, it will be a blessing!
In addition, I have seen little star gazers flip over the inflatable planets. You can hang them from the ceiling or toss them around. Hours of fun will ensue and the whole family will end up wanting to play with the inflatable solar system.
Finally, you have to have something with a motor. How about a motorized solar system with planets spinning around the sun.
One of these gifts is sure to be a hit with your little astronaut. They are all available at Amazon. Just click on the link or the photos below to learn more about them and how to order them.
Oh, and Happy Christmas Shopping!
How I Shop for Christmas Gifts
It's that time of year where Moms everywhere shop, wrap, bake, shop, wrap, and bake with occasional breaks for coffee or chai tea.
After 33 years of Mommying, 5 children, 3 grandchildren, and numerous friends and family to shop for, I have developed my own system of Christmas shopping.
My Christmas shopping system was developed and refined all the years I shopped for Daddy. He would give me money and I would get gifts from him for the whole family. Plus I had my own shopping. I had to streamline.
I start early in the fall, thinking about Christmas gifts and trying to notice what everyone I love is enjoying or needing. If I see something that I know someone will LOVE, I pick it up and save it for Christmas.
If I see something that would make a great Christmas present, but not sure for who, I will buy it if the price is cheap and put it in my gift drawer.
Then I go through my Christmas shopping process:
I do a lot, but not all of my shopping online. Okay, let's start with the lists.
Our family loves to snuggle up together and read Christmas picture books.
After all, who can resist a picture book, especially if it's about Jesus' birthday.
There is something magical about reading aloud together. It calms everyone down and bonds the reader with the listeners in a precious way.
We have collected Christmas picture books over the years and even now, I am adding to the collection for the grandchildren.
All of these Christmas picture books are inspirational and sweet.
The focus on the magic of Christmas: a baby in the manger who didn't belong here because He created the world He came to out of deep love for the people living in it. Some of the books focus on kindness and hospitality--2 important aspects of Christmas for our family.
Reading Christmas picture books aloud can be a meaningful Christmas tradition in your home. Why not start that tradition this year with these amazing Christmas picture books.
Christmas Gift Guide
At Powerline Productions, we have so many gifts that will make your loved ones happy. From picture book and cookbooks to unit studies and Bible studies, there's something for everyone!
Little children love our I See Colors series of picture book with bright happy photos combined with engaging text. They will learn their colors without realizing it!
Everyone loves our cookbooks. Along with a quick tour of exciting places or times, you get easy-to-make recipes to make history and geography come alive in your home school.
Bible studies are a great way to give a meaningful gift while investing in a loved one's future. Check out our Real Men, Ladies, and God's Girls studies that make Scripture practical and applicable to daily life.
Of couse, there's so much more! Let me introduce you to some great gift ideas that won't break the bank.
After all, who says Christmas shopping needs to be expensive.
Celebrate Christmas in Germany Unit Study is a way to experience a more meaningful Christmas while learning and having fun! Travel to Germany with me and discover so many of the festive Christmas German traditions we have adopted as our own. We will explore cities, castles, churches, the Black forest, and a Christmas museum.
Each day will start with reading one of Grimm’s fairy tales, followed by a Bible passage. The devotion ties the fairy tale and Bible passage together.
Reading time is followed by learning about a different topic every day ranging from Christmas markets or Advent to St. Boniface or bears. Hands-on learning fun follows! Crafting, mapping, baking, cooking, drawing, and planning will keep children happy while they learn at the same time.
Are you ready to visit Germany for Christmas?
Learn more about Celebrate Christmas in Germany here.
You can purchase Celebrate Christmas in Germany Unit Study at Amazon.
Celebrate Christmas in Germany Unit Study E-book is available for purchase at PayHip and TeachersPayTeachers.
Have a festive, fun Christmas.
God bless you!
Our Family's Favorite Christmas Movies
Nothing says Christmas like curling up under a blanket and watching a Christmas movie.
I want to share our family's favorite Christmas movies with you.
We have seen many of these movies over and over again through the years. Some are inspirational and some are hilarious fun!
All are packed with festive holiday cheer and music that makes the troubles of the world seem distant for a short time.
As Christmas rolls around again year after year, we find ourselves wanting to see these old favorites once again.
So, pop the popcorn, heat up the hot chocolate, and get ready to hear about some wonderful Christmas movies that the whole family will enjoy!
Homeschooling at Christmas
Can you get ready for Christmas and homeschool at the same time?
Of course you can. You can schedule everything perfectly and have the perfect balance of school, fun, and preparation. OR…
You can combine Christmas adventures and preparations as one big learning experience.
How We Did It
Before the children got to high school, we always scheduled our subjects to take a break during December, except for math. We always worked on math at least 4 days of week during December except for Christmas week.
What did we do for school those weeks you ask?
Well, we learned about Christmas in other places or read favorite books aloud that led us on learning adventures. We also prepared for Christmas. We signed and addressed Christmas cards, decorated the house for Christmas inside and outside, caroled, attended Christmas events, participated in Christmas dramas, made gifts, shopped, wrapped gifts, mailed gifts, and did lots of baking.
Sometimes we enjoyed Christmas-focused unit studies that included reading, crafts, field trips, as well as Christmas preparations and fun.
Summer Family Fun
Summer is a great time to relax.
The weather is warm, the skies are blue, and sunshine is smiling on everything.
Summer is the perfect time to curl up with a book or have an Anne of Green Gables movie marathon.
Nothing relaxes me more than lying on a beach chair listening to the waves crash on the shore. Soon, I am far away in a happy places. Oops! I hope someone is watching my kids!
Summer is a great time to make memories.
We love to swim in the pool, play games, craft, scrapbook, enjoy museums, and visit amusement parks in the summer. Afternoons at the playground or discovering where a dirt road leads are fun, too!
Summer is a great time to learn.
We always take a break from formal schooling in the summer, but learning continues on. After all, we live a lifestyle of learning as homeschooling families. There is always something to discover and investigate!
With all of this in mind, here are some happy ideas to celebrate summer, make memories, learn new things, and have a blast this summer!
How to Make a Watermelon Basket
Growing up, Daddy always carved a watermelon basket for our summer parties while Momma whipped up yummy food.
"It can't be too hard," I thought, deciding to tackle the family tradition.
Don't look too closely at these photos because they are nothing like Daddy's clean straight lines. Here is my watermelon basket and it wasn't too difficult.
I will walk you through the process step-by-step.
You will need:
1 Large Watermelon
1 Large Watermelon
1 Large Honeydew
1 Sharp Working Space
1 Melon Ball Maker
1 Large Mixing Bowl
1 Large Working Space
Your first job will be to cut off most of the top half of the watermelon leaving a wide handle in the center. (See the photo below)
Next, make melon balls from the pieces you cut off from the watermelon and add them to the mixing bowl.
Move on to making melon balls from the rest of the watermelon until it is empty, adding them to your bowl. Scrape the insides of the watermelon so it is smooth.
Make melon balls from the cantaloupe and honeydew, adding them to the mixing bowl. Mix all the fruit together so there is a pretty color mix.
Add the melon balls to the empty watermelon basket and it is ready to serve.
That's it! It's easier than you thought, isn't it? It makes a great centerpiece for a summer party, BBQ, or outside picnic.
Happy Summer Hospitality!
All the Gospels in the New Testament devote several chapters to the last week of Jesus’ life.
After all, there was so much going on that final week when Jesus took the sins of the whole world on Himself and died for us.
Satan thought he won, but he lost! Jesus rose from the dead on the third day!
When Holy Week and Easter roll around, I want my children to learn about and celebrate everything!
Besides being real history, this week is foundational for our faith in Jesus.
So, let me give you a birds’ eye view of the last week of Jesus life and ways to celebrate with your family.
Dinner at Simon's House
Starting on Saturday, Jesus dined with Simon the Leper in Bethany. Bethany was where Lazarus, whom he had just raised from the dead, and his sisters Mary and Martha lived. Anyway, while Martha served, Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair. Jesus said that she had anointed Him for burial and commended her.
Family Fun: Give one another foot rubs
(Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-9)
Triumphal Arrival in Jerusalem
On Sunday, Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people were so excited, they worshipped Him, as well as spreading cloaks and palm branches on the ground for Him to ride over.
Family Fun: Dress up and act out the Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem
(Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19)
St. Valentine's Day Menu Ideas
In my family, we love to celebrate with food. At Valentine's Day, we enjoy setting a fancy table accented with pink and red hearts. We love planning festive menus for breakfast or lunch or dinner.
Here are some menu ideas if you would like to celebrate St. Valentine's Day with food.
Heart-Shaped Waffles with Strawberries & Whipped Cream
Heart-Shaped Chocolate Pancakes with Syrup
Bowl of Raspberries & Pears
Heart-Shaped Ham Sandwiches
Pink Milk (put a few drops of food coloring in your milk)
Cranberry Juice mixed with Club Soda
Heart-Shaped Tea Sandwiches
Scones with Raspberry Jam
Celebrate St. Valentine's Day
I tried to make St. Valentine's Day special for our family while the children were growing up. We ate dinner together with the good china on a lace tablecloth. We celebrated love!
I loved exchanging little Valentine's Day cards when I was a little girl. As I grew into teenage years, I never seemed to have a sweetie when the day rolled around, so I felt lonely and depressed without a true love to celebrate with. When I became a Christian, I investigated to discover the true story of St. Valentine, a Christian pastor in Rome.
You can read "St. Valentine, The Real Story" here from CBN.
When I had my own family, I decided to celebrate love, the true love that comes from Jesus. That's the kind of love that St. Valentine had for his beloved flock. And after all, the day's named after him.
Because of the way our culture sees St. Valentine's Day, I wanted to reach out to singles, too. We have included many single guys and ladies in our festivities. Although messages from the world creep in, I have tried to make St. Valentine's Day a family celebration because we all need the perfect love that comes from the Lord. Reaching out to people has helped us to show God's love to others.