Christmas 2022

We’ve had another happy Markel Family Christmas!

Our celebration started, as always, on Christmas Eve, with Christmas Crunch for breakfast:

I played Animal Crossing early, because I knew that might be my only opportunity to deliver gifts for Jingle and say “Merry Christmas” to Roald:

The Fab Five completed this year’s Advent project, the Lego Disney Castle.

Speaking of Disney, Ladybug and I made red velvet Mickey Mouse waffles for lunch:

And then we went to church. It was quite early for us…3 p.m. It was definitely different to go to Christmas Eve church when it was still so bright out!

It was even bright when we stopped to see the city of St. Louis Christmas tree after church…but that made it easier to see the snow on the ground. We finally had a white (and very cold) Christmas!

It was also still pretty bright when we drove through the Way of Lights, but after all these years, it was kind of cool to see it in a different way:

I took lots of pictures when we got home:

And we enjoyed some cake:

We played a couple games of Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. I suffered one of my greatest losses of all-time in the first game!

The theme for this year’s Christmas jammies was (surprise, surprise) Mickey Mouse:

I still always set up the Little People nativity scene before bed:

We almost kind of got to sleep in on Christmas Day…but just barely. Stockings were the first order of business:

And then our traditional Christmas morning coffee cake:

And then we headed back to church for the Christmas Day service.

We found time for a nice family photo:

After we got home, we opened presents.

And then I got to work putting together the “pick out dinner.”

I was once again very pleased with how my charcuterie board turned out!

It’s such a fun and delicious meal!

We had another little reminder of our vacation when I burned the Christmas candle we picked up at Disney Springs:

Yesterday was a pretty quiet day because we waited for today for our fancy Christmas dinner. The table looked especially nice with our (kind of) new glasses added to the place settings:

For dinner, I made a beef tenderloin, which turned out beautifully. We also had sautéed mushrooms, hasselback potatoes, roast Brussel sprouts with a balsamic glaze and dried cranberries, our favorite cherry Jell-O, and rolls:

It was delicious and elegant!

For dessert I made a pair of yule logs. I tried a new recipe for a red and green variety, which was delicious, but not as pretty as I wanted it to be. I also made a favorite gingerbread variety, which was delicious and pretty!

The whole season of Advent went by quite quickly, and so has the beginning of the Christmas season, but I’m looking forward to making the most of the days ahead!

Advent 2022–Day One

Blessed Advent!

For the fourth year in a row, the Fab Five are working on a special Lego project for Advent (check out their previous builds of the Lego Millennium Falcon, Lego Diagon Alley, and Lego Hogwarts Castle). As so many things have been in 2022, this year’s project is related to our summer vacation to Disney World…they’re building the Lego Disney Castle! Turkey got it started by building the foundation:

It might not look like much yet, but I know from experience it will take shape quickly, and I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the hidden Disney details in the build!

Easter 2022

Time for a look back at another Markel Family Easter, which started, as it does every year, on Maundy Thursday:

On Friday, I made hot cross buns (again), but this year, I tried a new recipe:

The Good Friday service was, as always, lovely and moving:

On Saturday morning, while we watched Rick Steves’ European Easter, we made our Paschal Candle for the year…I think this may be the nicest job we’ve ever done!

While I did have work to do on Saturday to prepare for our Easter dinner, most of the day was really spent waiting until it was finally time for my favorite service of the church year, the Great Vigil of Easter:

After church, we stopped at Wendy’s for Frostys and fries:

We’re still getting used to the fact that we don’t have to get up for a sunrise Easter service, so we felt a little more leisurely about getting ready. We were still at church early enough to take pictures outside:

And some indoors, including our traditional by-the-baptismal-font Easter pictures:

The church looked especially beautiful!

Ladybug even got to acolyte:

And we got a nice family picture after the service:

When we got home, I made Easter breakfast, which included Kaiserschmarrn (the Kaiser’s torn pancakes) with Rhabarberkompott (rhubarb compote), hard-boiled eggs (this is really the first time we’ve ever dyed eggs…you’ll see why in a minute), and pomegranate juice:

While we watched Easter Parade and My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, I found time to play a little Animal Crossing: New Horizons so I could visit with Zipper T. Bunny. I also caught up with Roald, who was wearing an egg suit…I wonder if that’s what he looked like when he hatched?

I spent most of the rest of the day working on dinner and setting the table:

I chose an Italian theme for this year’s dinner. I served the same lamb in the slow cooker we had last year (technically Greek, but more generically Mediterranean, so close enough), lemon parmesan risotto, insalata caprese, roasted cauliflower, panzanella, breaded artichokes, capers, olives, Italian Easter bread, and lemon Italian soda.

I stuck with the Italian theme for dessert…we had cannoli and Italian sprinkle cookies:

This was an especially nice Easter. Maybe it’s because things felt more “normal” (I actually shook hands for the first time in over two years!), maybe it was because the church services were so meaningful, maybe it was because this may be the nicest Easter dinner I’ve ever made. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful we had such a wonderful celebration of Christ’s resurrection!

Quote of the Day

“The multitude of pilgrims
With palms before you went;
Our praise and prayer and anthems
Before you we present.” Lutheran Service Book #442, verse 3

Lent…Again

I’m not going to lie…last year, Lent felt like a continuation of the disaster that was all of 2020, and now here we are again at the first Sunday of what I can only assume is a never-ending Lent:

I look forward to the year (I hope!) where it feels like Easter never ends!

The Top Five–Photos of 2021

Yesterday was all about food photos; today I’m looking at everything else, starting with an icy picture I took last winter:

I love how sharp the shadows in this photo I took on my birthday are:

I took this picture of the Nashville skyline last summer:

And a fall picture of our church framed by leaves:

I’ll end with a beautiful fall sunset:

I’m looking forward to taking more pictures in different and interesting places in 2022!

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!