2022 in Review

What a year it has been!

For the first time since before the pandemic, this is a year I’m actually sorry to see go. We had a lot of fun this year, and made enough memories to make up for all the things we didn’t get to do in the previous two years.

But first, January, which is always a fairly quiet month. We rang in the New Year, and I looked ahead to some of the things I was most anticipating in 2022 (Spoilers: they all happened this time!). Ladybug and I had the opportunity to go to the “Beyond Van Gogh” exhibit, which was really cool. Chickadee finally resumed her job as my grocery shopping buddy after taking a very long hiatus during the pandemic. We had our traditional Burns Supper.

We finally had a decent snowfall in February, which provided Turkey and Bunny with their first-ever official snow days. On the 6th, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession to the Throne with a tea party, the first of many Platinum Jubilee celebrations. We had a special dinner for the Opening Ceremonies of Beijing 2022, the first of several special themed meals we enjoyed during the Olympics. We eagerly celebrated “Twosday.”

March is always a fun month. We began with a special Mardi Gras celebration. We enjoyed the “Markel Family Tour di Pizza” which began on MAR10 Day and ended on Pi Day, which also happens to be the local observance of 314 Day. Lucky the Leprechaun dodged our trap (again) on St. Patrick’s Day. We celebrated Turkey’s 19th birthday. We spent a morning at Laumeier Sculpture Park. Chickadee turned 10. We had a fun time with Kirby Day.

April was an exciting month. It began with the news of Albert Pujols’ return to the St. Louis Cardinals for the final year of his storied career…I was over the moon about this storybook ending, and our Opening Day celebration was better than usual! We enjoyed the cherry blossoms at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We started preparing for our postponed epic family vacation in earnest, going so far as to count the days until our departure. Easter was especially nice.

May is always one of my favorite months of the year. We went asparagus picking for the first time, and then had a Spargelparty. As always, we celebrated May the Fourth and the Revenge of the Fifth with special meals, which were kind of precursors to the first of many Disney Dinners we would have this year. Ladybug turned 15. We ended our school year, and Turkey and Bunny finished their first year of college with spots on the Dean’s List and admittance into Phi Theta Kappa. We visited Art on the Square for the first time since 2019. The girls and I went to the St. Louis Aquarium. We made a triumphant return to Chicago and Combo Breaker, where Turkey joined Ryan as a paid worker, and the rest of us had the chance to volunteer.

Where do I even begin with June? I don’t think there has been, in the whole history of our family, a single month packed with so much fun. We started by attending a street party for the Platinum Jubilee, and I even made the Platinum Pudding to continue the celebration at home. We acquired some new neighbors. To celebrate not only the return of Albert Pujols, but also the historic season for the battery of Molina and Wainwright, we attended a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium as a family for the first time in at least five years. We picked lavender for the first time. I had a fun birthday celebration. And that was all the “boring” half of the month because….

On the 18th, we piled in the van to begin our epic family vacation! We visited Washington D.C., discovered a really cool memorial, ate at an amazing local establishment, took a tour of the capitol, and went to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. We spent a night in Myrtle Beach, SC, got the rotors replaced on our car, and took a walk through Forsyth Park in Savannah, GA. After we stretched our legs, we finished the drive to Orlando, FL, where we visited all of the Disney World parks…Epcot, Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom, and the Animal Kingdom. We traveled the world, enjoyed the Flower and Garden Festival, immersed ourselves in Star Wars, ate lunch at The Hollywood Brown Derby, took part in the World’s Most Magical Celebration, rode the monorail and explored the Mary Blair mural at the Contemporary Resort, and met some of our favorite characters. We even found some time for shopping at Disney Springs. If all that wasn’t enough, we also toured Kennedy Space Center (and saw a rocket launch while we were there!), and spent a day hanging out by the resort pool. Oh, and after all this time, we finally got COVID…that also appears to be part of the Disney World experience.

After all that fun, July was spent from recovering, both from COVID, and from all of our travels! We spent the first two weeks back home lying around the house watching old Disney movies (Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros were favorites) and playing with our souvenirs. We were all healthy by the time Bunny’s 18th birthday rolled around. I had my first root canal, which was not as bad as I feared, but not something I’d care to repeat.

August was a similarly quiet month. We did make a quick day trip up to Chicago for the Fab Five’s first visit to Navy Pier and an appointment at the Rare Dirndl design studio. We finished summer school (Disney themed, of course!) before everyone started back to school…Turkey and Bunny in their second year of college, Moose a junior in high school, Ladybug a sophomore, and Chickadee in the fifth grade.

September is usually a low-key month…it’s kind of the February of the second half of the year. Ladybug, Chickadee, and I did go back to the Missouri History Museum for the first time since before the beginning of the pandemic, and took part in a great hands-on exhibit. Chickadee had her braces removed. And then, a terrible day. Of course I knew Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t going to live forever, and based on her age, her time on earth realistically had to be drawing short. Just the same, I guess I really wasn’t prepared for her passing to coincide with her Platinum Jubilee year. I did take a break from the wall-to-wall news coverage I couldn’t turn off to attend our town’s Oktoberfest.

In October, we started cooking our way through The Nightmare Before Christmas Cookbook. We visited Grant’s Farm, picked the perfect pumpkin (or four), and returned to Legends and Lanterns for the first time since 2019 (do you sense a theme this year?). Our family Oktoberfest was later in the month than I would have liked, but better late than never, right? Ladybug, Chickadee, and I took a hike at Shaw Nature Reserve and had a great time.

November was a busy month. We celebrated Moose’s 17th birthday. On Election Day, we took our annual walk around Creve Coeur Lake, and then Turkey and Bunny voted for the first time! We had a very unexpected snow. Ladybug, Chickadee, and I took a new trail at Cahokia Mounds. We attended the 10th anniversary of Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We baked all of the pies in preparation for Thanksgiving. The Fab Five started a new Advent project.

And that brings us to December. We were back in St. Charles for one of our very favorite events, Christmas Traditions. We had a very nice Nikolaustag, even if it did make me feel old. We also enjoyed Luciamorgon. Our Christmas in Germany themed Christmas School was a lot of fun and helped us connect to our heritage! We baked all of the things. The Fab Five finished their Advent project. We had a very merry Christmas. But we needed a little more Christmas, so we visited the Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo before it closed for the season.

I don’t see how 2023 can top this year, and I don’t think there’s really any point in trying. Some things are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and there’s just no competing with them!

The Top Five–Photos of 2022

Since all of my other 2022 in Review “Top Five” photo lists have six photos, this one had to also, right? Right?!? I’ve already looked at food, drinks, desserts, and our trip…these are my favorite photos from the past year that aren’t food or vacation related.

I’ve taken hundreds (thousands?) of photos at the Missouri Botanical Garden over the years, but there was something special about this one featuring Henry Shaw’s final resting place in front of his country house:

This photo taken in downtown St. Louis in May reminded me how much I love an urban environment:

Speaking of urban environments, this spring was the first time I’ve visited the Chicago Water Tower in many, many years, and I discovered just how photogenic it is!

That’s a quality shared by the entire city of Chicago…I loved having a bird’s eye view of the city from the Centennial Wheel!

A little closer to home, I really like the beautiful gingko tree outside of our town library, especially in the fall:

Our town is also especially pretty at Christmas:

That wraps up what ended up being my top 30 photos of the year. In light of all of the fun things we did in 2022, I think I should get at least some credit for keeping the number that low!

The Top Five–Vacation Photos of 2022

I took so many photos on our vacation this summer, and so many of them turned out better than I hoped, so it was almost impossible to choose a selection for this “Top Five” list. Yes, there are six photos, and no, I’m not sorry…the fact that there is only one bonus photo is a miracle, and I refuse to apologize for it!

We’ll start at the beginning of our trip with this photo of the Washington Monument as seen from the German-American Friendship Garden. It’s probably not my best photo of the landmark, but I love the lighting, I love the fountains, and of course I love the monument standing tall in the background:

This photo captures that boardwalk feeling in Myrtle Beach, SC perfectly!

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is such an immersive experience…you actually feel like you’re in one of the movies when you’re there! Also, this may be the best picture I took on our trip.

I took many, many (MANY) photos of the castle at the Magic Kingdom, but there’s something special about seeing it lit up at night:

I know it’s kind of silly, but this picture I took at Disney Springs just looks so good! It has a real Rodeo Drive vibe:

On our final day at the parks, Bunny and I did a speed run through EPCOT looking to add 50th anniversary pressed pennies to our collection. We did pause to admire the view here, though, and it was a perfect moment, with the puffy clouds against the bright blue sky reflecting in the water and the colorful flowers in the foreground. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a monorail going by on the bridge!

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up my “Top Five” photos lists from 2022 with a look at everything else!

The Top Five–Drink Photos of 2022

Between our Disney Dinners and other special events this year, I’ve made a lot of speciality drinks, and some of them were really pretty! Here’s a look at my my favorite (and prettiest!) creations from 2022, starting off with a concoction I created for Kirby Day:

I think the pink salt rim is what really sells this Kyyyalstaad Fizz (lemon and lime juice with sparkling water) we had on May the Fourth:

I created a nonalcoholic version of the Monorail Yellow…I love how summery it looked!

If the Monorail Yellow looked like summer in a glass, the Lava Smoothie looked (and tasted) like the tropics in a glass!

The Witches Cauldron Brew from The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook was the perfect drink for fall:

Keeping up with the theme of six photos in my “Top Five,” here’s one that’s definitely not like the others…hot chocolate from our first snowfall of the year in November!

Tomorrow I’ll be taking a look at my favorite vacation photos…let me tell you, that was a hard list to narrow down!

The Top Five–Dessert Photos of 2022

As promised, here are my top five dessert photos from this year, starting with a King Cake I made for Mardi Gras…I just love the vibrant colors, and the fact that I was able to come up with enough beads from around the house to make it a little extra fancy!

This cupcake photo just came out perfectly…I don’t think I could have staged it better!

These Easter cannoli tasted as good as they look!

I really like how I embellished this chocolate malt cheesecake:

And finally, a cake from The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook that was decorated by Ladybug and photographed by yours truly:

Also, because I’m not me if I’m not trying to sneak a sixth item into a “Top Five” list, a bonus photo of a Rainbow Cone at the lakefront in Chicago, which is honestly more about the setting than the food itself:

Stay tuned for my top drink photos from this year!

Tasty Tuesday: The Top Five–Food Photos of 2022

It’s time to take a look back at 2022, starting with my favorite food photos of the year (minus desserts and drinks)!

Let’s start in February, with this beautiful quiche I made for the tea party we had to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne:

A lot of my best food photos this year occurred during our “Disney Dinners,” like these Moana’s Motunui Sliders:

Some of my other best food photos came from my adventures in German cooking, like this Bavarian Obatzda with homemade pretzels:

We had a lot of fun with The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook…I love how colorful this “Snake and Spider Stew” was!

More German cooking…this time, a whole dinner plate featuring homemade schnitzel:

And a bonus picture, because nachos at the ballpark just photograph so well!

I took a lot of food photos this year, so stay tuned for specialized lists focusing on desserts and drinks, too!

The Top Five–Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2022

I’m not going to lie…I’m a little reluctant to even try to put this list together, because the one and only other time I came up with a list of things I was looking forward to in the new year, it was 2020, and I think we all know how that turned out (one of the five was cancelled outright, and one was postponed a full year). I do have some things I’m really excited about this year, though, things that I’m praying will all happen as expected, so let’s take a look at what I’m most anticipating!

  • Family Vacation–We were supposed to take a big family vacation in 2021…it was kind of going to be a celebration of Turkey and Bunny graduating from high school, and we were going to visit Disney World and especially Galaxy’s Edge, among other things. We realized pretty quickly that we would need to postpone the trip, so now we’re planning on going this summer, and I’m really praying it all works out, because we’ve added some destinations, and I’m really excited about it!
  • Alison Weir’s New Book–For six years in a row, Alison Weir had a new fiction book published in May, each focusing on the life of one of the wives of Henry VIII. I was pretty sad when the last book came out in 2021, because I didn’t know what I’d look forward to reading at the beginning of our summer vacation, but then I found out that this year, she’s publishing a book about Elizabeth of York…I can’t wait to read it!
  • Beijing 2022–I have mixed feelings about even looking forward to this, partly because, like the Summer Olympics last year, I feel like it should probably be postponed/cancelled, and partly because I think a diplomatic boycott is a coward’s boycott, and we really shouldn’t be participating on principle. Despite my misgivings, though, I know I’m going to watch, and I really love the Olympics…
  • The Platinum Jubilee–I have been looking forward to Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee for 10 years, ever since, during the Diamond Jubilee, a quite-young Turkey asked me what the next celebration would be called, and I guessed “Platinum.” It seemed so far away then, and Her Majesty was already quite elderly at that time, but here we are, about six weeks away from the anniversary of her accession to the throne, and I’m looking forward to celebrating her extensive reign!
  • “2”sday–I can’t believe our good fortune that 2/22/22 falls on a Tuesday! This is exactly the kind of thing that amuses me, and I’m so excited about it, I think this year Bobunk will fall on that date! It’s the little things in life…

I can already see how up to three of these things could go south very quickly, but I’m going to hold out hope that there will be no major hiccups this year, because that’s all we have…hope and a nectarine.