The Great American Eclipse

Today was the Great American Eclipse, which we have been planning to observe and celebrate for months! Belleville was just barely in the path of totality…and then only if you live south of Main Street. Fortunately, we do!

We started our day with some Sunny D:

And we had a special lunch…eggs sunny side up on “moon muffins” (the nooks and crannies in the English muffins make perfect moon craters, and I’m pretty proud of what I came up with there!), and Star Crunch as a treat. I really don’t get where the star part comes in, as they were round, but they were yummy. We also enjoyed some grape Sunkist, but since it was so dark, we called it “Moonkist!”

We spent a lot of time outside, observing various stages of the eclipse through the solar filters we got at the St. Louis Science Center (Moose got to do the same at his school, where they provided solar filters for all the students). We also had fun making pinhole images with a colander:

I tried taking a picture with a solar filter over the lens on my phone. It didn’t work out too well, but at least it’s something:

But these pictures, which I took about seven minutes apart, at 1:09 and 1:16 in the afternoon, really showcase the change we experienced. The streetlights came on, and we did indeed hear crickets. We even saw the full horizon 360-degree “sunrise!” It was a very moving experience…I found that I was overwhelmed, and quite emotional about it!

The eclipse was over quickly, but we kept the celebration going through dinner, where we had “werewolves” wrapped in crescent (moon) rolls, Sunchips, and a special black cherry soda created by local bottler Excel called Darkest Hour. And I had to drive all over town to find them, but we did get to have Moon Pies for dessert!

This was a special event, both in the fact that any one area doesn’t usually see total solar eclipses too often (unless you live in Carbondale, apparently), and that it’s also rare for such an event to stretch from shore to shore in America. I worked really hard to make a big deal out of it, and I hope it’s something the children will always remember!

A German Feast for the Fourth

I wasn’t really feeling the Fourth of July this year, so I wanted to do something different for our holiday dinner. I decided that a meal that celebrates part of our family’s heritage would work, so I set out to make a German Feast for the Fourth.

We started by making pretzels this afternoon, which is always a family favorite food and activity! In addition to nacho cheese (so not German!), we also had a delicious German pub mustard for dipping.

For dinner, I decided to make pork schnitzel with a Jaeger sauce, German potato salad, gerkensalat, sauerkraut, and homemade spaetzle. The dinner was a big hit!

For dessert, I made a Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen. Also a big hit!

This wasn’t our usual Independence Day dinner, but it was festive and delicious…what more can you ask of a holiday meal?

The Cinco de Mayo Feast

This year, I made our family’s favorite fish tacos for our Cinco de Mayo feast. I also made Horchata for the first time (which the children really liked, even though I was afraid they’d think it was too different), and a chocoflan for dessert. Of course, there were also margaritas for those of us old enough to drink!

The Easter Feast

Let’s start by focusing on what I liked about our Easter dinner. I set a very nice table, don’t you think? I love getting out our table linens and china, and making some kind of centerpiece. The side dishes were our standard family favorites: roasted potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts, pan-fried asparagus, cherry cola Jell-O, and mini croissants. Nothing terribly fancy, but dependably delicious. And the dessert was great. I tried a new recipe for a lemon curd swirl cheesecake with a homemade strawberry sauce. It took hours to get the whole thing made yesterday, but it looked and tasted great, so it was worth it. Those are all good things about our Easter dinner!

You may have noticed I didn’t mention the lamb. Despite the fact that I followed the recipe exactly (a recipe I have successfully made in the past, for the record), the lamb was way overdone. I don’t care what anybody who was at the dinner table said…it was not good. And since that was supposed to be the star of the meal, that was a huge disappointment to the chef.

Anyway, I’m going to try to focus on what I liked about the meal. And maybe not make lamb again next year.

St. Paddy’s Day 2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We had our typical celebration. The leprechaun trap was set last night, and while we still didn’t catch a leprechaun, we did find some green mint m&ms on the table this morning:

We enjoyed our other St. Patrick’s Day favorites, as well. Lucky Charms for breakfast, some mint creme rolls with lunch, and our dinner feast of corned beef and cabbage, carrots, roast potatoes, and soda bread with Irish butter. Oh, and Guinness cake for dessert, of course! And Ryan even stopped at McDonald’s and got me one of their new Shamrock chocolate chip frappés, which was delicious!

This is always one of my favorite holidays, and we enjoyed it to the fullest!

Valentine’s Day Dinner

I have done fancy Valentine’s Day dinners in the past, but this year, I decided to do something fun. Make-your-own pizzas is always a big hit around here…this year, I found pizza bagels to use as the base for our dinner, and they were amazing! We also had a nice selection of toppings…two cheeses (mozzarella and Provel), mini pepperoni, green onions, mushrooms, and olives. Add some festively colored strawberry Crush, and Valentine’s Day Funfetti cupcakes for dessert, and I think we had a very nice family feast!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The First Family Feast of 2017

I’m not going to lie…New Year’s Day (or Eve, for that matter), isn’t really my thing. After the excitement of Christmas, it just seems blah to me. This year, I wasn’t even going to do a big dinner. We were going to have pot roast, because chuck roasts were on sale last week, and carrots, and that’s it. But I must have felt guilty or something, because I decided we should have mashed potatoes, too. And I figured I should add the children’s favorite vegetable (brussels sprouts), while I was at it. Then I decided to make our favorite Jell-O, too. And then I got really crazy, and resolved (see what I did there?) to make both Parker House rolls and gravy from scratch. So much for ignoring New Year’s Day, I guess!

I’m so not into this holiday, I wasn’t even going to make a dessert. Until I ran across a recipe for mint hot chocolate bread pudding. Fine. I made dessert, too.

I didn’t get out the fancy china this time…because I’m still not into today. But, we had a nice family feast, and I guess it was a pretty good way to start a new year!