Celebrating the Pride of Mount Vernon

“Ladies and gentlemen!…The moment you’ve been waiting for!…The pride of Mount Vernon!…George Washington!” (From Hamilton)

I decided that, since we’ve enjoyed Christopher Jackson’s portrayal of George Washington in Hamilton so much, and since I knew we’d be watching Hamilton again for Washington’s Birthday today, I should also make the whole day a celebration. Actually, this was just the kind of festivity we needed at the end of February in the time of COVID-19! We started with coffee cake for breakfast…cherry, of course!

I got into the spirit of the Day in Animal Crossing:

The highlight of our celebration (other than watching Hamilton, of course), was dinner. I found four new recipes on the Mount Vernon website, all based on recipes from Martha Washington’s collection…chicken chasseur, popovers, carrot fritters, and stewed parsnips. Everything was delicious, but even I was surprised by how popular the fritters were!

Not too bad for a Monday night!

For dessert, I made pie. Cherry pie (of course!):

I threw in some ice cream for fun:

George Washington was a flawed man, as we all are, but he was a great leader for our young country, and I think these words from his farewell address to the nation sum up his character well:

“Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.”

Tasty Tuesday–Burns Night Supper

Yesterday was one of my favorite lesser-known holidays…Burns Night! While we don’t celebrate the famed Scottish poet every year, it is always a day we look forward to it when we do celebrate it. Since you can’t really get haggis in America (and I’m not sure I could get everyone here to try it even if you could!), our Burns Night Supper is always cock-a-leekie pie according to the recipe used by The Scottish Arms restaurant in St. Louis, as it appeared in Sauce magazine. I was feeling a little extra fancy this year, so I used cookie cutters to give the puff pastry a wintry twist:

Our traditional Burns Night dessert is always sticky toffee pudding, made according to the Schlafly recipe…with apologizes to Robert Burns, I think this is the “Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin’-race!” The cake is so popular, I’ve also made it for birthdays in the past!

What fun and unusual holidays do you like to celebrate?

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

I often take a look back at the holiday baking I did from Thanksgiving through Epiphany; this year, I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the holiday meals and treats we’ve enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving dinner:

We had our pick out dinner on Christmas Day this time:

And our fancy Christmas dinner on the Sunday after Christmas:

Of course we had our traditional New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar:

And a special New Year’s Day dinner to start the new year right:

And finally, our Ryan’s Birthday/Epiphany feast:

On to the baking. There were pies for Thanksgiving:

And several cakes throughout the season, for St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia Day, Jesus’ Birthday, the fancy Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Day:

We baked so many Christmas cookies!

And an obligatory “other” section, for things like lussekattes, coffee cake, and even some special holiday beverages:

I put in a little extra effort this year, to make up for the fact that we couldn’t go anywhere or do most of our normal Christmas activities. In the end, I think we’ll have a lot of delicious memories from this holiday season!

A Birthday Feast on Epiphany

It’s hard to write about a celebration on a day like today, but regardless of what is going on in our country, today is Ryan’s birthday, and we still wanted to celebrate him, even though we spent most of the day glued to the news. So, while we watched in disbelief, I carried on with the special dinner I had planned for him, starting with setting the table. (At one point while I was preparing for our dinner, I yelled so loud at the TV that I almost shattered a glass!)

The meal included a standing rib roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans with almonds, Brussels sprouts, rolls, and spiced apple rings.

It was a nice meal, in spite of everything:

For dessert, he asked for Oreo truffles. Since I didn’t have a cake to decorate, I made a fancy display for them, which I was pretty happy with.

I even found a fun star-shaped sparkler (that’s what happens when you have an Epiphany birthday), to top the truffle tree:

It wasn’t the birthday celebration he wanted, but it certainly will be an unforgettable one.

Celebrating the New Year in the Time of COVID-19

How in the world do you say goodbye (or perhaps good riddance), to a year like 2020 and then immediately move into celebrating what we all hope will be a better, brighter future?

In our case, we did what we usually do on New Year’s Eve and Day…stay home. I made stromboli, one of our favorite dinners, for New Year’s Eve:

And we had our traditional hot chocolate bar while watching Apollo 13. It wasn’t as fancy as it has been in the past (finding all of the things I usually include was too difficult due to COVID-19), but all things considered, I think I did a pretty good job of putting it together!

Most of the rest of the evening was spent playing Animal Crossing New Horizons and waiting for the final countdown, if you will, while we watched Ocean’s 11.

Roald had some wisdom to share:

Aurora and Wade echoed my thoughts on the year, too:

After staying up far too late trying to place an order on Lego’s website (I finally had success at 1:30 a.m.!), I was up fairly early this morning, and got to see the ice on the trees before it melted:

Sprinkle must not have gotten enough sleep, either, because she was in desperate search of coffee:

I think Ursula summed up my feelings on the new year pretty well:

A new year deserves a fancy dinner. I went with cool colors for the table this time:

I kind of took the easy way out with dinner…I just made pork tenderloin for the main course, which isn’t difficult to make and doesn’t even take much time, but feels fancy. I also made roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts, creamed spinach, breaded artichokes, and rolls. We even had spiced apple rings, which are a favorite of mine!

It was a really delicious dinner!

After watching Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!, we had dessert, a hot chocolate cake. I won’t lie, I used a mix, and canned frosting. But I still tried to make it look fancy:

I’ll leave you with a gently misquoted toast to the New Year by Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H:

“Here’s to the New Year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we all leave home before she’s over.”

Happy New Year!

The Christmas Feast

Today was the day of our big Christmas feast! Because of COVID-19, we didn’t have any guests to share it with, but I still made a nice dinner for the seven of us, and since we went to church this morning, it kind of felt like Christmas Day usually does!

As always, a holiday meal begins with a pretty table:

I didn’t make as much food as when we have family visiting, but I still think it was a nice spread. Beef Wellington, mashed potatoes and gravy, Brussels sprouts casserole, sautéed mushrooms, rolls, and cherry cola Jell-O were all on the menu. (We were also supposed to have creamed spinach, but the chef ran out of energy).

For dessert, I made a gingerbread Yule log with white chocolate bark and sugared cranberries:

It was a different Christmas feast than we’re used to, but it was still festive (and delicious!).

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in the Time of COVID-19

Time for a look at this year’s scaled-back Christmas celebration. Some things were the same, like starting Christmas Eve with a bowl of Christmas Crunch:

Some things were different…but not necessarily because of COVID-19. I had a fun time playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons and helping Jingle deliver his gifts yesterday morning:

The Fab Five finished this year’s Advent project, Lego Diagon Alley:

And I played Animal Crossing some more:

Our Christmas Eve dinner was different this year…I ordered tamales from Portillo’s, and we had them before church.

I always take pictures before church. This year, I took two sets. One with the year’s hottest accessory:

And one without:

This year, we attended an outdoor Christmas Eve service. It was cold, so we weren’t too sad it was short (although I missed all off the familiar Christmas hymns!). We did chuckle when a helicopter flew over during “Silent Night,” drowning out the singing!

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

For Jesus’ birthday cake this year, I made a peppermint chocolate cake with two kinds of frosting (white chocolate peppermint buttercream inside, and an Italian buttercream outside). I think this is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made!

Of course there were new Christmas jammies:

We skipped playing Ticket to Ride on Christmas Eve, so I just had to fill the stockings and set up the nativity scene under the tree before bed:

We didn’t have to get up early, so we enjoyed our traditional Christmas morning coffee cake a little later than usual (but not much):

And since we didn’t have a Christmas Day service to go to (probably the biggest disappointment of the holiday for me), we opened presents in the morning, which was very strange!

We had our traditional Christmas Eve “pick out dinner” for Christmas Day lunch…and dinner (we’re saving our fancy Christmas feast for Sunday…stay tuned!). Here’s a look at some of the things we had:

We spent the afternoon watching Christmas movies, including my very favorite, White Christmas. We played our annual Christmas Eve game of Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries tonight. And since we were a day late, we also played the new Ticket to Ride game Ryan gave me, the 15th anniversary edition with clear trains, which I love! Everything is different this year…we might as well embrace it!

“Hail, O everlasting morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem:
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!'”

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving in the Time of COVID-19

If there’s anything that didn’t change too much for us this year due to COVID-19, it was Thanksgiving. That’s not to say things weren’t different at all, but we never travel for Thanksgiving, so at least we didn’t miss that, and we don’t always have family over, so while we missed seeing them, it wasn’t necessarily expected either. So, a lot of our three-day Thanksgiving holiday looked pretty much the same, starting with Pie Day on Wednesday, when we baked eight pies (seven for our family, and this year, one to give away).

In the middle of the baking, the children also made their yearly hand-and-footprint turkeys…Turkey and Bunny were kind enough to play along again this year at my request, since it is their last year in my homeschool.

We watched a very different version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning (in the words of Al Roker, it wasn’t the parade we wanted, but it was the parade we needed), which we enjoyed very much because it was something somewhat familiar. The same went for the National Dog Show, which was extra exciting for me this year because the dog I wanted to win actually did! And then we got ready for dinner. One of the best parts of any holiday is setting the table:

And the food. There was a lot of food, even with the turkey mishap we had in the morning (I ended up having to throw out the turkey I had purchased to roast, and we decided to order a second Beast Craft BBQ smoked turkey to ensure we had enough leftovers).

It’s always a pretty-looking dinner!

After clean-up and Holiday Inn, I got out the pies:

I limited myself to trying two kinds. This was my first attempt at lemon meringue pie, and I was very pleased with the results!

I made sure to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and helped Franklin prepare his holiday feast:

The day after Thanksgiving has been pretty different. We didn’t get to see Moose march in our town’s Santa Parade this year, which was disappointing…I’d really come to enjoy that event. And there was no town tree lighting or gingerbread house walk or trolley ride to look forward to after dinner. This morning, though, the family traditions did continue with pie-for-breakfast:

And turkey sandwiches for lunch, which I almost like better than Thanksgiving dinner itself!

Lego building is also part of our day-after-Thanksgiving celebration…I built the free-with-purchase A Christmas Carol set we received:

I always make turkey soup for dinner the day after Thanksgiving:

And after dinner, the Fab Five built a Lego Harry Potter set to add to our Hogwarts setup in the school room.

It wasn’t exactly the Thanksgiving we had planned, but all things considered, we had a very nice family celebration!

Halloween in the Time of COVID-19

Halloween is the one holiday this year that looks pretty much the same to us, since our celebrations are always minimal at best. But I still wanted to make the day special, so I went to some extra effort with our meals.

We started the day with pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls. Yes, they were from a can, but they were still a treat!

I chose all of the elements of our dinner from our Harry Potter cookbook. We had braised lamb, Brussels sprouts, boiled potatoes, mashed parsnips, and butterbeer.

Dessert also came from the Harry Potter cookbook…a chocolate gateau.

We spent the day watching movies (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, because it’s about candy, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, plus we listened to my favorite Halloween episode of The Baby Snooks Show. And of course, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was played!

Another holiday in the time of COVID-19 has come and gone, but the big ones are still on the horizon!

Michaelmas Eve

Michaelmas is one of my favorite lesser-known church holidays, but even in the time of COVID-19, Tuesdays are kind of a hectic day for us, so I decided to make a special dinner tonight for Michaelmas Eve. The main dish was beef Wellington:

It was a pretty fancy dinner for a Monday!

For dessert I made a pumpkin angel food cake roll:

Surprisingly, I didn’t really like it, but the children did, and it looked really nice!

Now I can officially start counting down the days until Advent!