Grin and Bear It

After all this time, I finally have a new neighbor!

I have been looking for Tutu and hoping to welcome her to my island FOREVER. Maybe even FIVE-EVER! She is such a cute bear…I love her heart sweater, her ear bow, her little handbag, and her darling pink feet. And since she’s a white bear (I think the only one in the game), she must be a polar bear, right? And the idea of a polar bear living on my island, which is predominantly a home to penguins, really tickles me. But the best part? In the German-language version of the game, her name is Mandy, which definitely makes her my bear! I was super excited when she showed up at my campsite, and it was worth the game of musical villagers I’m playing to have her call Gloriana home!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday!

It wouldn’t be a celebration for me if I didn’t get to hang out with Roald:

Apparently Grimace is celebrating his birthday right now, too, so Ryan went out and got me a special birthday shake…it was surprisingly good!

We watched a couple of my favorite movies today, including Cars, which I’ve been thinking about ever since we went to Disney’s California Adventure. I also wanted to wear my new Miss Candyfloss dress and go somewhere pretty…I picked this spot in downtown Belleville, which has a really fun mural!

The girls made me a beautiful birthday cake for dessert, too!

And a little more Animal Crossing, including a visit from Chickadee:

I had a very nice day, and as always, I’m sad it went by so quickly!

Happy World Penguin Day!

In honor of World Penguin Day, here’s a look at some of the penguins we saw at the St. Louis Zoo last month:

And I can’t mention World Penguin Day without taking a look at my very favorite penguin pal, Roald!

Mardi Gras 2023

As hard as it is to believe (since it seems like we just celebrated Christmas), Lent is upon us already. But first, let’s take a look at Mardi Gras 2023 in the Markel house!

As I did last year, I made plum Berliner instead of pączki. I’m not saving myself any work by doing so, but I like the Berliner a little more.

I don’t understand why the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Festivale event is on Monday and not either the weekend or Tuesday, but I had a fun time hanging out with Pavé!

For dinner, I turned back to two of our favorite recipes from the Entertaining with Disney cookbook…Tiana’s Famous Gumbo and Bayou Queen Punch:

For dessert I made a King cake. I couldn’t find quite the shade of green sugar I wanted, but it was still pretty and tasted great!

Now that the celebration is over, I guess it’s time to really buckle down for Lent.

Hail the New!

“Fast away, the old year passes
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses”

Can you believe it’s already 2023? 2022 (for the most part) just zoomed right by! Here’s a look at how we celebrated New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day this time around.

I like a theme, so we started the day yesterday with hot chocolate rolls:

We spent a lot of the day decorating sugar and gingerbread cookies. Mickey Mouse shapes were very popular this year!

I also (finally!) made eggnog:

We decided that 2022 deserved one more Disney Dinner, so I made one of our favorite recipes from Delicious Disney, Monte Cristo sandwiches:

After Apollo 13, we had our traditional hot chocolate bar, with the addition of hot chocolate bombs that Ladybug and I made!

Another new addition was hot chocolate Chex mix:

My only motivation to stay up until midnight is ringing in the New Year on my Animal Crossing island, and I made it!

New Year’s Day is the perfect excuse to wear something sparkly, am I right?

Of course we started the year with a special dinner, so I set the table with the china again, and this time, I learned a new napkin fold to make things a little fancier!

Pork tenderloin is a fairly traditional New Year’s Day main course here, although I did prepare it differently this time. I also made twice-baked potatoes, roast carrots and parsnips, and for the first time, spiced apple rings, since you apparently can’t buy them in a jar anymore.

It was delicious, and not as much work as Christmas dinner (and way, way less work than Thanksgiving!).

For dessert I made a hot chocolate cake, complete with homemade marshmallow creme (I told you I like a theme!).

So that’s how we said goodbye to 2022 and hello to 2023…and now I’m looking forward to giving the kitchen a bit of a break!

Thanksgiving 2022

Time for a look back at our family’s Thanksgiving celebration, a three-day affair that always begins with Pie Day (Wednesday), and continues on through Black Friday.

On Thanksgiving morning, we watched the Macy’s Parade (which just wasn’t the same without Al Roker), and in between dinner preparations, I played a bit of Animal Crossing:

While we watched the Dog Show (we were thrilled that the adorable French Bulldog, Winston, won!), I got to work setting the table:

Instead of using a mix of stemmed glasses, this year, I set the table with our “regular” drinking glasses, which I purchased over the summer. They look pretty fancy, even though we use them everyday!

Dinner was ready earlier than I was expecting (I’m glad I checked the turkey when I did, because the pop-up timer, which I never use, had already popped), and I scrambled to get it all together. Our meal was fairly standard, with turkey and everyone’s favorite stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, carrots and parsnips, green beans with almonds, Brussels sprouts, and rolls, plus one new dish, made with wild rice and mushrooms, that I really liked!

I think it was a pretty amazing feast!

For dessert, we had our standard seven pies, most of which were our usual picks, but I did make one new recipe for a cranberry curd tart with a shortbread crust:

I chose the two main Thanksgiving flavors, pumpkin and cranberry, for my dessert plate:

The next morning, we started the day with pie-for-breakfast…this time, I chose Nutella:

Then we went to see Moose march with his band in the town Santa parade:

Nothing beats a turkey sandwich on Rye bread for the after-Thanksgiving lunch!

I also tried the pecan pie…I updated my recipe, and I just had to see for myself how it turned out (really, really well, if you’re interested!):

This year’s Lego Winter Village set is an adorable Main Street complete with a streetcar:

For dinner, I made turkey soup (of course):

And then Moose, Chickadee, and I went downtown for the tree lighting:

I love our Thanksgiving traditions!

Oktoberfest (Finally!)

It’s a little later in the month than I would have preferred, but today we finally had our annual Markel Family Oktoberfest! It was a beautiful day, and I thought it was very fitting that we sung a hymn in church this morning that I remember my dad singing in German while I played the piano when I was a child.

I was excited to have a dirndl and lots of edelweiss accessories to wear this year:

When we got home from church, we had our traditional Oktoberfest lunch of fondue with brats, German pickles, and homemade pretzels:

I made most our dinner of schnitzel, spaetzle, rotkohl, and sauerkraut from scratch (the sauerkraut was the only store-bought item).

For dessert I made our favorite Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte:

Oktoberfest is a lot of work…like an actual holiday’s amount of work. But it is a holiday for us, and I love having a way share my heritage with my family!

It’s My Birthday!

Today is, as Moose put it, my 5th 39th birthday. We started the day by taking a peek at the rapidly-growing mourning dove squabs in our tree:

We were out early due to the excessive heat warning I was gifted for my birthday. There was only one thing I really wanted to do out of the house…visit a spray park. We ended up driving up to a really nice one in Edwardsville because it was open early, and had fun playing in the water before it got too hot!

When we got home, I opened my presents…I received some very nice things from my family!

Of course I played Animal Crossing New Horizons, and for the second year in a row, Roald came to my party!

The rest of the day was pretty chill…we watched some of my favorite movies (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, A League of Their Own, and White Christmas), had my favorite frozen pizza for dinner (Home Run Inn), and enjoyed the beautiful birthday cake (with 43 candles) the girls made for me:

In spite of the heat, I had a fantastic birthday…and that’s just the start of the fun this week!