Garden Glow in the Time of COVID-19

On Sunday night, we went to the festival member preview of Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Things were (of course) different this year:

But some things were reassuringly familiar:

I tried to see some things in a new way:

My favorite part might have been the gingko leaves on the ground around much of the Garden. Garden Glow started far earlier this year than it has in the past, so we’re not used to the golden carpet they provided. It was a beautiful, if not strange, sight, and added an extra pop of color to the lights:

The exit was routed through the new visitor center (which is a fantastic building!), and this guy was right outside:

I only took one video this year, but I think it was a good one:

It was strange attending Garden Glow so far in advance of Thanksgiving. It’s also strange to know that this might be the only Christmas event we attend this year. But I’m really glad the Missouri Botanical Garden found a way to host it safely, and I’m especially glad we got to do something that felt almost normal in this very strange year!

Home for the Holidays

I have to admit, as much as I love this time of year, I’ve kind of been dreading the holidays. Most of what we would normally do (or I had planned special for Turkey’s and Bunny’s senior year of high school), has either been cancelled or just isn’t doable in the midst of a global pandemic. Thanks COVID-19. But there are some new and different things that we’re doing to make some unique memories this year, and one of them arrived yesterday.

Like so many other things, the Christkindlmarket in Chicago has been cancelled. Now, we weren’t planning on going to Chicago this year at Christmastime, but knowing it (and Belleville’s Christmas market), had been cancelled bummed me out. So when I heard that they were going to offer some special boxes for a “Home for the Holidays” celebration, I thought I should check it out.

I chose to get the “A Few of Our Favorite Things” box. The main attraction, in my opinion, was two Christkindlmarket mugs (and a packet of glühwein spices), but there were other goodies in the box including a candle that smells just like Christmas and a bonus box of European chocolates.

Now, this won’t replace our favorite Christmas activities, and it represents something we hadn’t even had on the schedule for this year. But I feel good about supporting one of my favorite Chicago Christmas attractions, and it’s something fun that will make a special memory in a very strange year!

Christmas in March

Today was like Christmas in March, because today was the long-awaited day when Animal Crossing: New Horizons finally came out, and I was ready for it!

I’ve had a great time playing this game all day. My island started out with two villagers, Rocket and Antonio, and while the two of them aren’t my personal favorites, I’m looking forward to seeing who else will move in (I hope Roald shows up sooner rather than later!). I’ve also really enjoyed all of the new elements to the game, and I can’t wait to see what I unlock next!

Don’t think the irony of this timing is lost on me. While I’ve been looking forward to my “Christmas in March” for months, suddenly, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Our local radio station is playing a week of Christmas music, I hear the Hallmark channel is showing Christmas movies, and Anheuser-Busch has even turned the Christmas lights back on at their brewery in St. Louis. What can I say? We all “need a little Christmas” right now…mine just came in the form of Animal Crossing!

Tasty Tuesday–Holiday Baking 2019

We never did get around to making and decorating cut-out cookies this year (I think we’ll make that a Valentine’s Day activity!), but I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all of the holiday baking we did do, from Thanksgiving Eve through Epiphany.

16 Dozen Cookies (four different kinds):

11 Pies (a total of eight varieties):

Layer Cake:

Coffee Cake:

Bûche de Noël:

Apple-Cranberry Bread Pudding:

Gingerbread-Eggnog Trifle:

Lussekattes for Santa Lucia Day:

Crème Brûlée:

Epiphany Baklava:

Even without the cut-out cookies, this may have been the busiest year of baking yet…it was delicious fun!

Gardenland Express 2019

I was a little worried that we weren’t going to make it to the Gardenland Express holiday flower and train show at the Missouri Botanical Garden this year. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was so short, and December was so busy, we just couldn’t find the time. Finally, Saturday morning, we were able to venture out, and I’m glad we did, because the theme of a Victorian-style holiday with a heavy emphasis on oranges (The Linnean House, the oldest greenhouse west of the Mississippi, was originally built as an orangery), was unique and fun! I really loved the unexpected color palette and the local landmarks on display!

And of course I look for any chance I can find to take a picture of the Fab Five:

Merry Christmas!

Sartorial Saturday–Christmas Dressing

Time to take a look at this year’s Christmas outfits (which were, admittedly, very similar to last year’s)!

On Christmas Eve, I wore the same black and purple lace dress that I’ve been wearing every Christmas Eve for close to a decade, and of course my best Christmas brooch. I did change it up a bit with some some new Splendette starburst Duchess Bangles, though!

On Christmas Day, I wore my holiday harlequin Genevieve dress from Pinup Girl Clothing, which is the most Christmas-y piece of clothing I own. I added a bow belt from Torrid, which wraps the whole outfit up like a present, plus Splendette Duchess Bangles and the Christmas earrings that arrived the day after Christmas last year, my favorite Christmas brooch (again), and a sparkly Lux de Ville mini hatbox handbag:

Possibly the most notable fact is that I wore heels two days in row for the first time since breaking my ankle last year…and both outfits certainly looked better without the ankle brace I was wearing last Christmas!

Christmas 2019

I thought Advent went by quickly, but our three-day-long Christmas extravaganza flew by even more rapidly!

As always, our celebration began Christmas Eve morning, with a breakfast of Christmas Crunch:

New on Christmas Eve this year was putting the final touches on Lego Hogwarts Castle, a project the Fab Five worked on throughout Advent:

We had our “pick out dinner” for lunch as we have for the last few years, and it may have been the best one yet! In addition to our Christmas Eve favorites, which included a few favorites from tea parties, too, we added a Volpi Salame plus a large basil roltini.

After lunch, we headed to church, where Ladybug had the solo for the first verse of “Once in Royal David’s City.”

I especially enjoyed the Quempas Celebration.

It was nice to get a picture of the Fab Five in the newly renovated church sanctuary after the service:

We drove through the Way of Lights on the way home:

And then I took all of the pictures!

It’s always exciting to light all of the candles in the Advent Wreath!

Jesus’ birthday cake turned out a little better than last year’s, but not by much, because it fell apart a bit on one side. At least I could get a semi-decent picture, and the chocolate peppermint flavor certainly tasted good!

The entire family, including Ryan and me, received matching Christmas jammies this year, and these may have been the cutest ones yet!

Turkey joined Ryan and me for our annual game of Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, and he won by a lot.

Chickadee set up the nativity scene before I filled the stockings and we headed to bed:

We were up very early on Christmas Day, and I finally got pictures of all of the children while they were opening their stockings!

We enjoyed our traditional Christmas Day cherry coffee cake for breakfast:

But that paled in comparison to the beautiful Christmas sunrise…”A holy day has dawned upon us!”

Back at church, the adult choir had the opportunity to sing again, including these two beautiful descants:

Of course I had to get another picture after the service:

After lunch, we opened presents:

The rest of Christmas Day was fairly quiet…we watched Christmas movies, as well as a few episodes of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which the Fab Five received for Christmas.

Yesterday, on Boxing Day, we had our big, fancy Christmas dinner. As always, I had fun setting the table:

This year’s dinner included roast beast (a standing rib roast that I found for a steal at Aldi), mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, Jell-O, and croissants, plus a festive Comet and Cupid Cabernet Sauvignon for the adults. I think I cooked the beef extraordinarily well (or maybe good would be better, if not grammatically correct, because it was definitely not well-done!).

We had a trio of Christmas desserts, and I hit pretty much every Christmas flavor except peppermint. There was cranberry-apple bread pudding with a vanilla cream sauce, gingerbread-eggnog trifle, and a chocolate Yule log:

And that’s the end of another Christmas celebration. I’m already thinking about how we can celebrate next year!