Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Stollen - a family tradition!

Merry Christmas Friends!

The Bentz Bunch is full of food traditions...  I have one to share with you.  We have this each year with our Christmas morning Fruit Soup and Christmas Stollen. (can you tell we're Germans?)

German Stollen

1 package of active dry yeast or 1 cake compressed yeast
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
4-3/4 to 5 cups sifted enriched flour
1 egg
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped mixed candied fruits
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
Soften active yeast in 1/4 cup warm water or compressed yeast in 1/4 cup of lukewarm water.

 Melt butter in hot milk; add sugar, salt and cardamom; cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups flour. Add egg and beat well. Stir in softened yeast, fruits, peels, and nuts. Add remaining flour to make soft dough. Turn out on lightly floured surface.

Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or till smooth and satiny. Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. 

Cover; let rise in warm place till double, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down; turn out on lightly floured surface and divide in 3 equal parts. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.

Roll each part into a 12X7 inch rectangle. without stretching dough, fold long side over to within 1 inch of opposite side to make typical stollen shape; seal edges. 

Place on greased baking sheets. Cover, let rise till almost double, about 30-45 minutes.

Bake in moderate oven (375) 20 to 25 minutes, or till golden brown.

While warm, brush with butter; sift confectioners' sugar over; or glaze as below.
 Makes 3 loaves. 

To glaze stollen use about 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, add 1/4 cup hot water and 1 teaspoon butter. (I put almond flavoring in my glaze)

It looks like a lot of work...but it's so worth it!!  Family traditions are our way of saying - "I love you" - Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016


For Art History - we were studying Christian symbols.  I remembered my mother-in-law making Crismons for a Church Christmas tree.  They were beautiful, and it's the perfect time of year, so we had to make our own version!

Crismons are white and gold ornaments that are symbols of Christ. We had a fun time with the variety of symobls - from greek letters to butterflies, everyone contains a message of Jesus.

To make ours - I used good old Pinterest to find some patterns.

Then, I got the stiff  white felt sheets from Hobby Lobby and traced an outline.

Final step - turn them loose with gold accents like glitter, paint and ribbon. (I get coffee at this point, as to not have a heart attack about the glitter...)

We had so much fun making them, we had way too many for a wreath, so we strung them on a gold cord under our Nativity scene.  I love how they turned out in our garland!

The Whole World Needs Jesus: A Review for YOU!

The Whole World Needs Jesus

This is a beautiful book that I can NOT wait to share with you!  It is designed for ages 4-8, but all my children have enjoyed it.

This delightfully illustrated book is written by Ann Dunagan, with illustrations by Caela Rose Dunagan (her daughter).  I am a huge fan of this family!

 If you want to learn more about their ministry - visit  They have been inspiring and equipping families to embrace God's call to the world. They offer resources, books and training to help you raise a "mission minded family."

This read aloud book is for the entire family.  The rhyming text tells the story of God's love for the whole world.  It encourages us to embrace our differences and hear God's call to GO.  The book makes the perfect encouragement for children to see people's differences - like where we live, or what we eat as something we can celebrate and embrace.  I love how this book introduces even young children to the BIG picture of God's Great Commission.

My heart's desire is for my children to have the heart of God.  This is one of those books that helps build that vision in your children from an early age.

This is would make a great Christmas gift both for you and a favorite missionary you may know.  

Excellent resource you don't want to miss!  Let me leave you with my favorite Dunagan quote:

"You can only export what you grow at home"

I was given a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.  All comments are my own.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Greek Columns

Art history -

Greek columns!  The easy way... with cardboard tubes.  Doric, Ionic, Corthinian?  It's your call...

We also demonstrated how columns create strength with our "challenge" - paper cup columns and cookie sheet roofs.  They did some hand's on to learn what design was the sturdiest.

Lots of fun in Art class today!

Friday, December 2, 2016


In my Ancient geography class at Co-op - we decided to make our own papyrus.

This was so easy (except who gives glue/water to 16 3rd-8th graders and tells them "not to make a mess"...)

We used paper lunch bags that we tore into strips.

Then, dipped them into glue/water mixture (like paper mache) in a criss-cross pattern. We let them dry on tin-foil so it was easy to pull them off.

Afterward, we decorated our papyrus with some Egyptian stencils.

Turned out nice!

Monday, November 28, 2016


I am enjoying our walk thru history with ART.

This week at Co-op we tried our hand with fresco painting. (painting into wet plaster).

Our creations turned out beautifully!

We used food trays and plaster of paris for our base.

Then, we painted with watercolors on the base before it was completely dry.

The end result was great, the paint soaked into the plaster and it dried well.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Annual Turkey Coloring Contest!

Bentz Thanksgiving traditions are alive and well...  The annual Turkey coloring contest!

Which is your favorite? (winners determined by FB voting....)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Commissioned by Chara Games: A Homeschool Crew Review

Commissioned {Chara Games}

Commissioned {Chara Games}

Commissioned by Chara Games

Hands down...our family loves to play board games!  Especially cooperative, strategy games like a new family- favorite - Commissioned by Chara Games.

This NEW game (don't you love discovering a new game...just in time for Christmas?) is designed for 2-6 players, best for ages 14 and up.  It is a cooperative game, which means plenty of working together to win.  

Can I pause a moment to get on my "soapbox"... cooperative games have been a wonderful training tool for my teens!  These types of games teach them to work together, to sacrifice for the greater good, and many other character lessons.  If you haven't discovered this game genre, now is the time.

Commissioned is a game of strategy - the goal is to spread Christianity throughout the ancient world with the apostles.  I love this game is about spreading the gospel, kind of a reverse of another cooperative game my boys like that focuses on containing viruses.  

The game can be played in around 1 hour.  Our first game took longer as we learned the rules.  Strategy games have various levels of complexity - my boys figured this one out very quickly. The Rules are clearly explained in the "Rulebook",  It can be hard to figure out the complexity at first, so you can even watch a "how to play" video online.  The game has 5 scenarios you can pick from, so you can play this game over and over without getting tired of it.  

This is a beautifully done game board.  The pieces are the high-quality type.  Heavy, full color and built to last. The games includes 6 unique "player boards" which form the basis of each player's game play.

In addition "faith cards" and "trial cards" are played during each round.  This is where players start to work together toward the goal of spreading the "churches" throughout every region on the board.  My high school and college sons are masters at the strategy part of the game.  My daughter and I really enjoyed playing as well (even if we just did what they told us was the best move).

In addition to spreading churches, you are also collecting books of the New Testament and attempting to keep your candles (the church) still lit.  The game ends when your candles are out, or your goal is met.  

Each turn a different player is the "Elder" and makes decisions, with the help of the others, to advance the game. 

The variety of scenarios appealed to my serious gamer sons.  They love to play, and get quickly disappointed when a game gets easy to beat.  This will not be the case with Commissioned!  I predict this will be a family favorite for a long time to come.


 We were delighted to win our first game, but it came down to our final card!

Commissioned {Chara Games}

This is a beautiful game, with an even better message - spreading the Church.  The theme appendix that comes with the game is treasure of historical background on the real people, places and events of the game.  It makes this "educational" too... It's a win-win :-)

You will definitely want to wrap this up this Christmas!

PS - I'm scheduled to get a chance to play 3 Seeds a new game in production at Chara Games.  This is a card game style game about using your resources to mange your time, money, and labor.  I can't wait to tell you about it!

Find Chara Games on Social Media:

Twitter: @Charagames

Hashtags: #hsreviews #ChristianBoardGames #StrategyGames
See what other members of the Crew thought here
Commissioned {Chara Games}
Crew Disclaimer