Tasty Tuesday–The Final Christmas Feast

We had Ryan’s birthday dinner a day early today, so we got to have one last 12 Days of Christmas feast! Homemade fish tacos with shredded cabbage and a delicious white sauce, with a chocolate cake for dessert:



I’m always sad to see Christmas go, but at least we had one last chance to celebrate!

Tasty Tuesday–Christmas Baking 2015

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Christmas baking is finally done!

I think this was a record year…I baked over 60 dozen cookies. About 15 dozen each of raspberry-almond thumbprints and chocolate peppermint cookies (the two most popular that I bake), Another 12 dozen or so each of gingerbread and sugar cookies, plus kolaches and hot chocolate cookies. I also made two trays of Christmas cracker candy, which are kind of cookies and kind of not.

Our big family baking day is always so much fun!

We’ve really upped our decorating game! Turkey made Mario and Luigi snowmen, and Bunny made the “leader of the hosen”…I really liked that she included a feather in his cap! And we also added actual ninjabreadmen cookie cutters, which provided even more opportunities for creative decorating…

There were other special baked goods, as well, including our St. Lucia Day lussekattes, baklava for Epiphany, two birthday cakes (one for Jesus and one for Ryan), a bûche de Noël, my first-ever lattice top pie, a trifle, and a coffee cake:

I even baked one savory item…smoked Gouda cheese straws:


The Markel Bakery is now temporarily closed…but I’m sure it won’t be too long before I get the itch to bake something again!

Christmas at Citygarden

Today is only the tenth day of Christmas, so I’m still celebrating! Here’s a look at St. Louis’s Citygarden downtown, a place I had never seen at night at Christmastime before…it’s quite unusual and beautiful!


The 2015 Christmas Feast

As has become our tradition, we waited to have our big Christmas feast until today. I love setting the table for Christmas!


As has also become our tradition, we had an English-themed meal (complete with Christmas crackers)…turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, carrots, brussels sprouts, cranberries, and rolls. So, pretty much Thanksgiving fare!


And for dessert, a bûche de Noël and an apple pie, with the first-ever lattice crust I’ve ever done!

Happy Christmas!

A 22° Halo on Christmas Day Night

There has been much ado about the rare Christmas Day full moon we’re experiencing this year. It’s something that hasn’t happened before in my lifetime, and won’t happen again for almost 20 years, so it’s a pretty cool event. When I looked out the window tonight, though, I certainly wasn’t expecting to see this:


22° halo is not a rare event in itself, but seeing one on Christmas Day, when there is a rare full moon in the sky, seems like a pretty exciting happening to me!

Christmas 2015

We’ve had another fun Markel Family Christmas!

Our celebration began yesterday, with our traditional “pick out dinner,” which this year, was actually a “pick out lunch.” I love that it’s never exactly the same two years in a row! I was happy to add an actual cheese board to our spread this year, which came in handy for three of the six cheeses we had. We also enjoyed five types of crackers, two dips with tortilla chips, summer sausage, Volpi roltini, buffalo Chex mix, sausage squares, Mexican cheese squares, pizza bagels, mozzarella sticks, and peppers stuffed with ranch dressing flavored cream cheese:


Of course I always take a zillion pictures on Christmas Eve…I was very happy with the results!


We did do something new this year. Since the oldest four children are singing with the children’s Kantorei at Hope Lutheran in St. Louis, we went to church there on Christmas Eve. It was a beautiful service, and their singing was wonderful!



Back home, we lit all of the Advent wreath’s candles, enjoyed Jesus’s birthday cake, and opened one present each. As is our tradition, Ryan and I played a game of Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, and I hung up our Christmas banner before (reluctantly) going to bed.



Early Christmas morning, we searched for the pickle on the Christmas tree (to see who would get to hand out presents later), opened stockings (Chickadee got a toy camera so she can continue to pretend to be me!), and enjoyed my special cherry Christmas coffee cake:

Then we went to our church for the Christmas Day Divine Service. Turkey and Bunny were very excited to not just be acolytes, but also torch-bearers in the processional:


When we got home, we had lunch, and then listened to Ryan read the Christmas story from Luke 2. I loved how intently Bunny listened, and I was amused that Chickadee played along with the story with our Little People nativity scene…I don’t think any of our other children ever did that!

And then we opened presents. I think everyone loved their gifts, especially all of the Lego gifts!

It has been a very happy Christmas indeed, and the celebration is just beginning. I’m looking forward to the full 12 days of Christmas…who knows what’s in store?

A Very Lego Christmas

Every member of our family received a Lego gift today, which just goes to show how awesome the gift-giving in our family is. I think I received the best gift, as my children very generously gave me a Lego gift card, so I can buy the much-anticipated and longed-for Brick Bank when it comes out in a week.

The children also received the Lego Dimensions starter pack, and a few level packs to go with the game. More Lego fun on Christmas!


A Lego Christmas is definitely a Markel family Christmas, which is the best kind of Christmas there is!

Wreath Auction at the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden currently has 16 wreaths on display in the visitor center, and they are all part of a silent auction to benefit the Garden’s horticulture division. It’s amazing to see how different they all are, and all the different items used to make them!

Gardenland Express

Another fun Christmas event at the Missouri Botanical Garden is the Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show. In addition to charming vignettes depicting different wintry scenes, there are conifers from around the world, poinsettias, and other beautiful flowers:




It’s amazing to me how much there can be to do at the Botanical Garden during a time of year when there is so little life outside. Christmastime is definitely full of fun activities there, however, so it’s worth your time to stop by and check it out!