Twenty Years

Today, Ryan and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary!

The traditional 20th anniversary gift is china, so Ryan gave me this beautiful vintage brooch (from England!):

I had Cardinals jerseys customized as my gift to him:

We’re still not comfortable eating out, so we had Portillo’s Italian beef and sausage shipped right to our door:

And I made s’mores bark for dessert:

We couldn’t go on the trip to London that Ryan had planned for our 20th anniversary (maybe next year…or the year after), but he could take a trip to visit my island of Gloriana, which I had ready for a wedding celebration:

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years…I hope the next 20 don’t fly by quite as quickly!

Sartorial Saturday–Queen of the May

“Have a blossom from my bouquet
I am monarch of all I survey
Someone kissed me today
And I am the Queen of the May

Footman harness my coach and four
Drive me up to the palace front door
Have the trumpeters play
Make way for the Queen of the May!” Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

If our 17th wedding anniversary (yesterday) wasn’t a good enough excuse to break out my bridal tiara and pair it with my Pinup Girl Clothing castle print Jenny skirt, then certainly today’s Royal Wedding is, right?

The shirt is bright and bold, so I went with simple (fake) pearl and (not really) silver accessories…all in all, I think it’s a pretty regal look!

Are you doing anything special in honor of the Royal Wedding?

An Anniversary Tea

When your wedding anniversary is the day before a major Royal Wedding, the only real option for celebrating is having a tea party!

The theme of our (dinner) tea party was finger sandwiches. I made six kinds…cucumber, seafood salad, gouda with garlic aioli, roltini, turkey with pineapple-pepper jelly, and roast beef with horseradish and arugula.

Our sweet treats included lime Jell-O, “Fancy Cakes,” and chocolate chip scones.

Since the bride is an American, I decided to go with what I think might be the most well-known tea in the U.S.–good old Lipton:

As I did when we celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s and Prince Philip’s anniversary last year, I used my bridal tiara for our centerpiece:

The table looked very pretty, especially with the addition of our new rainbow silverware…tonight’s celebration was the first time we used it!

This was a fun way to kick off a wedding and Royal themed weekend!

A Platinum Tea

For several years, I have been planning this Very Special Tea Party…one to celebrate the Platinum Wedding Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. We had the tea party on November 10th, because even I’m not crazy enough to try to pull off an event like this Thanksgiving Week, but I wanted to wait until today, their actual anniversary, to share it. I think this may be the prettiest tea party we have ever had!

I wanted to go with a platinum (silver) and white theme for the table. Our china fit the bill perfectly, and I was able to find an inexpensive silver tablecloth (which I’ve wanted for a long time, anyway), to use as a runner on top of our white tablecloth. I added seven candles, (including a pretty grey-colored Yankee Candle) one for each decade of their marriage, as our centerpiece. The addition of my wedding tiara and a double strand of “pearls” completed the look.

The tea of choice was about as classic as it gets: Earl Grey.

We had four kinds of finger sandwiches: roast beef with horseradish and arugula on white bread, coronation chicken on wheat, cucumber and cream cheese on cocktail rye, and heart-shaped lobster salad on wheat:

I added in a few other savory choices: deviled eggs and Red Leicester cheese.

And the sweets. Grape Jell-O, lemon cake slices, chocolate chip scones (in the shape of a double heart!), and the pièce de résistance, a biscuit cake made with McVitie’s Digestives.

Everything was so beautiful!

It was also a delicious meal!

I don’t know if this was our “best” tea party ever (although I do think it was the loveliest), but it may have been the one that was the most meaningful to me. I am so thankful for the beautiful example of Christian marriage and faithfulness The Queen and Prince Philip have modeled and made look so effortless through all of the changes of the last 70 years.

I will leave you with two quotes: One from Prince Philip in a letter he wrote shortly after the wedding, and the second from The Queen on the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary:

“Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me and my ambition is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will also have a positive existence for the good.” Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh

“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.” Queen Elizabeth II

Ten Years

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day we closed on and got the keys to our house!


It is almost impossible for me to believe that it’s been that long…there are days when I walk downstairs, and I still catch a whiff of that “new house” smell. But 10 years it’s been, and a great 10 years at that!

So much has happened since we moved in here. Five of us moved in that day (although Ladybug was already a stowaway), and we had so much less stuff. The house seemed huge after living in cramped apartments. And my very own laundry room! I still stop and marvel over that occasionally.

Of course, things do change over the course of 10 years. There are now two more people living in this house than the day we moved in…and yet, I can’t really remember what it was like before Ladybug, and then Chickadee, joined our family. And we have so much more stuff. More furniture, more clothes, more shoes, more books…so many more books. Homeschooling wasn’t even on our radar back then, and yet today, an entire room of our home is dedicated to it!

There have been so many happy days…and a few sad ones, as well. So many holidays and birthdays celebrated here. So many guests we have welcomed into our home. So much music and laughter that has echoed off the walls. When we moved in, I told Ryan that he could bury me in the backyard someday, and I still feel that way. While I sometimes wish our house was a little bigger, had another bathroom, or was located a little more conveniently to this location or that, there is still no place I’d rather be after all these years!

Of course, I had the perfect skirt to wear for the occasion…one featuring houses! And I wore this very denim shrug the day we closed on the house…it’s probably the oldest piece in my wardrobe that’s still in regular use!

Since it’s our house’s “birthday,” we had to have a family feast. I don’t remember the very first meal I made here, but Turkey and I both remember one of the earliest dinners prepared in our kitchen…slow-cooked beef and mushrooms served over buttered egg noodles. I remember it because, as I was pregnant with Ladybug at the time, I didn’t get to enjoy it due to “morning” sickness, and instead went and laid down on an air mattress in our den, surrounded by boxes that still needed to be unpacked. I don’t know why Turkey remembers it, because he didn’t even like it much back then, but it’s a popular meal now, so we enjoyed having it for dinner today. Since I cooked the beef in Boulevard’s Funky Pumpkin beer, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to also try out Funkier Pumpkin, which was delicious with the meal. I also added the children’s two favorite vegetables, roast carrots and brussels sprouts, to the menu.


Of course, no Markel family  birthday celebration is complete without a cake, so I looked back and found the first dessert recipe I published on my blog (that didn’t include nuts), and made that. The children insisted we get some candles for the occasion, as well.

We’ve had a great decade in this house, and I look forward to many more…happy birthday, house!


Anniversary Dinner

Today is our 15th wedding anniversary!

We started our celebration a day early, with Chicago-style pizza for dinner last night…the same meal we had at our rehearsal dinner 15 years ago, only this time, it was homemade, and not from the kitchens of Giordano’s.


I wanted to make something fancy-ish for dinner tonight, but I also wanted it to be something that we would all like. With Ryan’s help (and a bit of input from Turkey), I decided on a pan-fried chicken and grapes with a creamy white wine and mustard sauce, plus couscous and sautéed asparagus. For dessert, I made a strawberry Moscato torte, which my family liked, but sadly I didn’t really enjoy.

15 years later, and still just as happy as we were on the day we got married!


Five Straight Years

My blog’s “birthday,” if you will, is coming up exactly one month from today, on January 23rd. It was on that date in 2008 that I published my first post.

Today, however, is a much more significant anniversary for this website. On December 23, 2010, I committed to blogging every day. This was supposed to be an experiment for a little over a year, as I was was gearing up for a post-a-day challenge in 2011. After that first year, however, I realized that I enjoyed looking for something to write about (or photograph), everyday, and I decided to keep going. And keep going I have, for the last five years. I’ve found something to share at least once a day, every single day, without taking a break, for five years.

Some days were easier than others. In 2014, when we decided to track down all 250+ “Cakeway to the West” installations, I had over 250 blog posts planned, without too much thinking (but lots of effort!), on my part. Other days were more difficult, and I struggled to even find a quote to share.

I’ve blogged through it all. Sickness, miscarriage, childbirth, those early sleepless days with a newborn, homeschooling from kindergarten through junior high, a road trip…nothing has stood between me and the “publish” button. I’ve written through good times and bad, laughter and tears, holidays and everydays. I’ve reviewed things, talked theology, shared some of my favorite things, complied curriculum lists, and talked about my family and my community constantly.

This is a significant day for me. I’ve mentioned before that I began blogging because Ryan really enjoyed it and asked me to try it out. I keep blogging, though, because I fell in love with it, and because I can’t imagine not writing, photographing, or sharing something everyday. I can’t promise that I’ll never miss a day in the future, but I am committed to continuing to publish something daily as long as I am able. I may just be talking to myself most of the time, but that’s ok by me, because at heart, I’m a writer, and even though “it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket,” it’s still a hobby that I love, and I will continue to write for myself, even it not for anyone else!

An Anniversary Trip to the Zoo

Today we spent the morning at the St. Louis Zoo. We covered a lot of ground…we saw the elephants at the River’s Edge, the sea lions at Lakeside Crossing, the penguins (including an adorable chick), and puffins at The Wild, and a whole bunch of animals at the Children’s Zoo. The only thing we really missed seeing was the giraffes, but the smallest member of our family had had enough walking, so we’ll have to save that for another day!