This weekend, we got to visit Bunny for Parents and Family Weekend at her college! We’ve been there before, but it was fun to see some of her favorite things and check out where her classes are!
We got to go to “Donuts with the Dean” while we were there, visit the campus Starbucks (I think we’re calling it “Starbies” now), walk all the way to the top of the hill, and attend a volleyball game (we won!). It was a beautiful day, to boot, and we had a really fun time!
We even got to have Zaxby’s, which is a real treat for me!
The most special thing to me, besides seeing her (of course), was getting a picture of all the children. I know she hasn’t even been gone for a whole month, but I was really happy to get a new photo of the Fab Five together.
I’m not going to lie…Thanksgiving feels like a long time from now, but that’s when we get to see her next!
As hard as it is to believe since Lent always seems like it lasts forever, Holy Week and Easter Sunday have already come and gone. We had our traditional four day celebration, beginning on Maundy Thursday, with a fun twist for Easter dinner this year! I really look forward to this celebration every year, this 2023 did not disappoint!
On Maundy Thursday, I made hot cross buns. This is definitely a tradition now…what started as an experiment in 2020 when I was only grocery shopping once every two weeks and couldn’t plan on purchasing them has become an expected part of our Holy Week observances! I did try a new recipe this time, and I think we all liked it even better than the other ones I’ve made!
The evening church service was, as expected, lovely, especially the music.
Everyone had off of school on Good Friday, which was nice. I dedicated my day to baking. I made what were probably the best buttermilk biscuits ever, as well as blueberry muffins:
We were back at church that evening for another moving service:
Would you be surprised to know that I was back to baking on Holy Saturday? I made my first-ever angel food cake…keep reading to see how it turned out!
We also made this year’s Paschal candle…I think this was our best effort ever!
The Great Vigil of Easter is still my favorite service of the whole church year…I love the meaning behind each different part!
On the way home, we stopped at Wendy’s for Frostys and fries:
Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful!
One of my favorite traditions is taking pictures of the Fab Five by the baptismal font:
Of course, I took other pictures, too:
We also got a very nice family photo:
When we got home, we had Easter brunch (our first brunch of the day…stay with me!). I made biscuits and gravy, and we also had scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and a variety of mini donuts. And pomegranate juice, which has become something of a tradition.
It was a great first meal of the day!
We watched some of our favorite Easter specials, and I visited Zipper T. Bunny when I wasn’t working on our big meal.
I learned how to turn our napkins into flowers for Easter!
I love how pretty the Easter table always looks!
For Easter dinner, we had Easter brunch (again). But this was a fancier brunch suggested by Turkey, including eggs Benedict, breakfast casserole, bacon, waffles, a salmon and radish tart, fresh fruit, gouda tea sandwiches, blueberry muffins, and a cheese board.
It was fun (and delicious!) to do something so different for dinner!!!
For dessert, we had the angel food cake I made, served with strawberries and a cream cheese filling/frosting…it was really good!
Easter is, of course, the highlight of the church year, and our celebration this year at church and home was especially lovely!
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!
We made sure that we were there for the Santa Parade. Actually, we were there way earlier than we needed to be, but at least we got a good parking spot!
I truly believe Main Street in St. Charles in one of the prettiest streets in the entire St. Louis metro, and never more so than at Christmas!
We did a pretty good job of finding characters…I think we ended up with 26 of 33 cards. The important thing, though, is that we found both Jack Frost and the Master of Revels, our two favorites! We were impressed by how many characters they have added representing different world cultures…it gave us an opportunity to learn something new!
Jack Frost even gave Bunny a “Blue Crew” pin, which made her day!
I had to stop and take a picture with the Mistletoe Misses, because I looked like I could join their lovely, mid-century group in the outfit I was wearing!
And, as always, I took a photo of the Fab Five by the gazebo. Not in quite the same location as usual, because one of the singing groups was performing in it, but close enough:
Sometimes, I can’t believe just how long this has been a part of our Christmas traditions…it’s definitely one of the things I look forward to the most in December!
This was a busy and fun (not to mention short!) school week! We had one day that was a field trip day (Tuesday) and one day off (today, for Veteran’s Day). But first…cooking! Ladybug helped me make another three recipes from Recipes from the World of Tolkien…Lembas Bread (spicy cornbread), Sam’s Coney Stew (but actually chicken thighs according to the suggested substitution in the cookbook), and apple and blackberry cake:
Chickadee also did some baking with me this week…we made “Canterlot Cornbread” from the My Little Pony Baking Book. It was some of the best cornbread I’ve ever had!
Our previously mentioned field trip was to Creve Coeur Park for our annual walk on the four-mile loop around the lake. We timed it so Turkey, Bunny, and Moose could come with us, and he had a great time!
We did get some school work done, too. In algebra 2, Ladybug learned how to identify discriminants. In chemistry, she learned about decomposition, formation, and combustion reactions, and did an experiment to break down water into its constituent parts using an electrolysis machine. She read about dynasties in Japan and China in history. She has almost finished the second part of The Scarlett Letter. She tried her hand at crime and horror writing in creative writing.
Chickadee had mostly a review week in math, covering many of the topics she’s worked with so far this year. In science, she learned about chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas. She learned about early Greece and the Mycenaeans in history. We continued to read through Centerburg Tales. And we got to tag along with Bunny on a visit to the St. Louis Art Museum today!
Next week we have a full week of school, with some Thanksgiving fun thrown in, and then it will be Thanksgiving Week already!
Yesterday we went back to Legends and Lanterns in St. Charles, MO, for the first time since 2019!
It is always a good day when we visit St. Charles, and yesterday the weather was especially perfect! Some things were different from our last visit (we really kind of missed collecting a sticker or stamp of some sort from the characters to prove we had seen them), but most things were the same.
We were there just in time to see the Angry Villagers take to the streets to warn the gathering crowd of the monsters lurking on Main:
The cast of characters was excellent. We didn’t see them all (we never do), but we visited with most of our old favorites:
We don’t tend to take as many pictures with the characters at Legends and Lanterns as we do at Christmas Traditions, but we did get a few:
There were some very clever entries at Scarecrow Glen:
The storefront signs in St. Charles never disappoint:
I will never pass up an opportunity to take a picture of the Fab Five!
We missed out on Legends and Lanterns in 2020 because of the pandemic…last year, we simply couldn’t find time. I’m really glad we made time to visit this year, because it’s so much fun!
On Friday afternoon, we went to pick out a pumpkin or two (or four!) at Braeutigum’s. It was the perfect day for it…cool, with big puffy clouds. We rode in the tractor pulled wagon to the pumpkin patch for the first time in several years:
There were many different varieties from which to choose:
We also saw the local wildlife:
Moose had the day off of school, and Turkey and Bunny are done with their college classes fairly early on Fridays, so they joined us:
When we got home, we enjoyed a snack of hot apple cider and fresh apple cider donuts:
Yesterday we went to Grant’s Farm for our first normal visit since 2019. Yes, we did go on a Private Expedition last year, but we didn’t get to walk through the Tiergarten or see the Clydesdales then, so that was a very different outing. We found that things were somewhat different this time…I don’t know how much of that is due to changes implemented during the pandemic, and how much of it is because the ownership group has changed somewhat, but it wasn’t quite the same experience we had remembered. It was still a beautiful day to be outside, and it’s the closest I feel like I can get to Germany while staying close to home.
It’s always fun to see all of the animals!
And we were still able to take a picture at our favorite photo spot…I wonder how many pictures I’ve taken in this exact same location over the years?
I was also very excited to wear a dirndl to Grant’s Farm…after Oktoberfest, this is the one place I was most looking forward to showing off my German national dress!
Even thought things were a little different, it was still nice to go back and walk around after such a long time!
Back at home, we kept the Disney magic going with art projects:
And lots and lots of cooking! We had 12 “Disney Dinners” at home over the summer (plus the one we indulged in at The Hollywood Brown Derby), which let us sample copycat recipes from the theme parks and the Disney World resorts:
It wouldn’t be summer school without a Lego build, and we found the perfect set to reflect our summer fun!
And we squeezed in a few craft projects, including an amazing pumpkin coach, a cupcake liner lei modeled by Stitch, and a string art Mickey Mouse head that left glitter everywhere!
We also watched a ton of Disney documentaries (thank you Disney+) and classic Disney movies, some we had seen before, and some that were new to us. I especially loved the mid-century documentaries from when the theme parks were just getting their start, but the more modern ones, that focused on attractions we saw at Disney World (and their California counterparts) were fascinating, especially after we had the experience of seeing them first-hand.
Like I said, there won’t ever be a summer school like this again, where we were able to blend fun and learning and so many experiences together, but I’m really glad we got to do it once in our lifetime!