Tasty Tuesday–A Look Back at Festive Feasts and Holiday Baking

Can you stand one more look back at the holiday season? I hope so, because it’s time to wrap-up all of the festive feasts and baked goods I prepared from Thanksgiving through Epiphany!

Our Thanksgiving dinner was fairly standard, although I did make a second kind of stuffing, and instead of just roasted carrots, I made a blend of roasted winter vegetables (which did include carrots):

Our pick-out dinner is always my favorite meal of the year, and I thought it was extra special with the full charcuterie board I prepared:

Our fancy Christmas dinner (which we had on the Sunday after Christmas) featured beef Wellington:

Our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar looked a little different this year, but it was still delicious!

Pork tenderloin is becoming something of a tradition on New Year’s Day:

And finally, our most recent “festive feast,” Ryan’s birthday dinner last week:

I made ten pies over the holidays (with a lot of help from the girls):

We baked more cookies than I can count, including several new varieties, my favorite of which was the Linzer Augen:

“Only” six cakes this time around (do Yule logs count as cakes?):

And some other assorted treats, including my first attempt at cannoli and gingerbread Oreo truffles:

It’s not like I’m going to stop cooking anytime soon, because we still need to eat, but I’m looking forward to planning some simpler meals for a bit!

Sartorial Saturday–My Favorite Festive Fashions

Now that even Epiphany has come and gone, I’m taking a look back at my favorite festive fashions of the 2021 Christmas season. I picked my favorite styling of each Christmas piece I have in my wardrobe (four skirts, a dress, and a dirndl apron), plus a photo of how I accessorized each:

Also, two bonus pictures that don’t really fit anywhere else…the dressing gown I wore on Christmas Eve, and a playful shot of one of my new Christmas brooches on my overalls against a candy cane-inspired background:

As much as I’m looking forward to mixing up my fashion a bit more in the coming weeks, I’m really going to miss my Christmas prints until it’s time to pull them out again!

Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo

Would you believe that I, the Christmas Queen, had never been to Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo?

Well, almost never.

The first year Ryan and I lived down here (I think) we did visit, so that was almost 20 years ago. But we weren’t impressed, so we never felt like spending the money on tickets again. Maybe it was because we had a pretty recent memory of the lights at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, and that is a display that’s hard to top. Or maybe it really was just that underwhelming. But after that first time, we never went back.

Until last night. I needed a little more Christmas, and from what I’d seen of pictures of the lights, it seemed to be pretty different, so we decided to buy tickets for the family before the event ends for the season on the 30th.

I have to say, it was nothing like the hazy memories of being disappointed two decades ago I had stored away in my mind. There were lots of cool displays throughout the zoo, fun Christmas music, and the smell of funnel cake in the air (even with masks on!)

One of my favorite things about the displays was that the ornaments and presents displayed with the various animals had those animals’ prints on them, and I thought that was really cool!

Of course there were plenty of opportunities to take family photos, too!

I’m really glad we decided to take a chance on this…I would definitely pay for tickets again in the future!

Christmas Island

Welcome to Christmas Island!

I have had so much fun decorating my island and taking pictures with my neighbors this month. I have both Christmas and ice displays all year long, but I added more merriment throughout my island…and I think I’m going to leave those items up all year, too!

It looks especially pretty at night:

Between the lights on the cedar trees, the snow, and the jingle bells in the music, this is my favorite time of year to play Animal Crossing!

A More Normal Christmas

After what was a very strange and low-key Christmas last year, this year’s three-day Christmas celebration was closer to the normal we remember. We started the day on Christmas Eve by forgetting to eat the Christmas Crunch I had been saving specifically for that day. The Fab Five (specifically Turkey) finished building the Lego Millennium Falcon in the morning:

I found some time to play Animal Crossing and deliver gifts to all my neighbors:

We enjoyed Portillo’s for an early dinner before church:

And we got to go to church inside this Christmas Eve!

On the way home, we stopped to see the city of St. Louis Christmas tree and drove through the Way of Lights:

Of course I took pictures when we got home!

We lit the Advent wreath and had birthday cake:

And the Fab Five received their yearly gift of Christmas jammies…this year’s theme was gnomes!

I filled the stockings and made sure the tree and nativity scene were just right before I went to bed:

On Christmas Day morning we had our traditional Christmas coffee cake, plus the previously-forgotten Christmas Crunch:

We got to go to church on Christmas Day this year!

And I even had a chance to take a picture of the Fab Five without their masks before the service because we arrived so early and there was hardly anybody else there yet:

We opened presents after we got home:

And had the best meal of the year, the “pick out dinner.”

There were old favorites and a few new items:

I think the star of the meal, though, was the charcuterie board I put together, featuring salame roses:

Seriously, it’s the most delicious dinner ever!

And this morning, we were back at church, and again we had an opportunity to take a mask-free picture, this time of the whole family!

Tonight we had our fancy Christmas dinner, featuring beef Wellington:

It was also a delicious dinner (but not as good as the pick out dinner!).

For dessert I made both a gingerbread Yule log with sugared cranberries and a more traditional chocolate variety:

So this Christmas was still a little different, but more familiar than last year. I’m so grateful we had more opportunities for worship this year, and the ability to have family visit. Maybe next Christmas will be more normal still!

2021-22 School Year–Christmas School

This week was a lot of fun, because it was Christmas School! Once Ladybug took her science test, and Chickadee finished up her science assignments as well, all we did was read A Christmas Carol and Letters from Father Christmas and bake cookies, do crafts, and watch The Nutcracker.

On Monday we watched the Dutch National Ballet Nutcracker, made traditional paper snowflakes, and baked Christmas Island coconut macaroons:

On Tuesday we watched the Royal Ballet Nutcracker, made popsicle stick snowflakes, and baked chocolate Madelines:

On Wednesday we watched the Bolshoi Ballet Nutcracker, made beaded snowflakes, and baked Filipino puto seko:

On Thursday we watched the Vienna Staatsoper Nutcracker, made q-tip snowflakes, and baked Czech poppyseed cookies:

Today we watched the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker (my favorite!), made 3-D paper snowflakes, and baked chocolate crinkle cookies:

Several of the snowflake crafts we made could be used as ornaments, but we also had a specific ornament for the year…painted clay ornaments cut out with Christmas cookie cutters I bought just for this project:

In the end, we tried three new cookies recipes (plus a variation on Madelines we had never made before) and two new craft projects. It was fun to have both and old new things to try, and it was nice to have a relaxing week of school!

Chickadee Thursday

Here are a few of Chickadee’s highlights from our visit to Christmas Traditions in St. Charles, MO, last weekend…chatting with Scrooge (her favorite Christmas legend at Christmas Traditions), holding the Christkind’s bell, and pretending to be the Sugar Plum Fairy:

After having to miss it last year, Chickadee was super excited to be back!