Chickadee Thursday

The children can count on getting three things in their stockings on Saint Nicholas Day every year…an orange, chocolate coins, and a new ornament to add to their collection. This year, I picked up ornaments from Germany when we visited the Christkindlmarket in Naperville, and Chickadee was very excited to hang her new snowman ornament on the tree this morning!

No Coast. No Kings. Combo Breaker 2018

I’ve shared bits and pieces about this year’s Combo Breaker, held in the Mega Center (plus a ballroom) at Pheasant Run Resort, as I’ve recapped our trip north, but now it’s time to take a closer look at the event itself!

I think we spent more quality time at Combo Breaker than ever before this year. We actually saw a final in its entirety! We watched more top eights than we ever have, too. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Ryan play this year (he competed in the Mystery Tournament again, but we missed it), but we did see him hard at work volunteering many times, because he was busy with running brackets and being part of the security team all weekend!

We saw the cosplay contest this year, and following it, we got to see Samus up close, and I asked if I could take a picture:

We also spent more time at the arcade this year. I love how there was something for everybody to play…even me! I stuck with the pinball tables, but the children enjoyed lots of different games, including Crazy Taxi, Killer Instinct, Bubble Hockey, Hydro Thunder and Duck Hunt. It’s also always fun to take a walk through the vendor area, and some of the children bought something with the money they had been saving. And there were game-themed Redbull beverages again this year, which I find very amusing!

I think the most exciting moment of the weekend, though, was when Ryan was given this medal. He earned medals at the previous two Combo Breakers he went to (fifth place in Tekken Ball in 2016 and seventh place in the Mystery Tournament in 2017), but this year, he didn’t advance far enough to be in contention for an award. On Sunday, however, he was given this medal in thanks for all the hard work he did helping with setup and the event itself…we are very proud of him!

So that’s it for another Combo Breaker. The staff and volunteers worked so hard, often behind the scenes, to make this another fantastic event. It’s clear, even to someone with no familiarity with fighting games like myself, how much blood, sweat and tears goes into making it happen, and making it run smoothly. And even though I neither play nor truly understand fighting games, this has become one of the highlights of my year, because the community is so great, the energy and enthusiasm in the Mega Center is so fantastic, and the event is so well-organized, that it’s impossible not to love it and have an amazing time. After three years in attendance, Combo Breaker is firmly in “family tradition” territory, and we are already looking forward to going back next year!

Seamus Day

Last year, on February 26th, I said this:

After having eaten at Seamus McDaniel’s on February 26th for three straight years, due to varying circumstances, I was so sad last year thinking that our fairly new tradition would have to come to an end after 2/26/2016…and then later in 2016, Seamus announced that they would now be open on Sundays! So here we are, on February 26th, a Sunday, and Seamus was open for us to enjoy lunch this afternoon. We have now had lunch or dinner at Seamus McDaniel’s on February 26th in 2014, 2015, 2016, and thankfully, 2017, as well. After four years in a row, there is no doubt that “Seamus Day” on February 26th is a favorite family tradition!

I know I’ve said it before, but I think today’s burger was the best one I’ve had yet. I do know this…eating lunch at Seamus guarantees the most perfectly rare burger you can imagine!

Tasty Tuesday–Homemade Pretzels

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I mentioned that we had our family Oktoberfest celebration recently. The format changes some from year to year (we picked pumpkins this year, which was a nice, new addition), as does the date (anywhere from late September to, well, any point in October), but the children have a favorite activity that we make sure to do every year…make pretzels! It’s a fun, child-friendly activity, and everyone can enjoy the results (they’re especially delicious with the cheddar and beer fondue I also make every Oktoberfest!). If you’re interested in adding this tradition to your family’s celebration, here’s the recipe I use:

  • 4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two more tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease baking sheets.
In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water; set aside. When dough is done rising, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape (other fun shapes can be made, as well). Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8 minutes.

The Markel Opening Day Foodstravaganza

My husband created an awesome new family tradition. Read on (make sure to click the link to get full details and photos!) to see how we plan on spending future Cardinals Opening Days, unless, of course, we’re lucky enough to actually spend one at the ballpark someday!

“The Cards blew it on Opening Day, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a great time, and I think we’ve just established a new tradition here at the Markel household. There’s no possible way I was going to be able to get tickets for all six of us to go, so we had to be creative and figure out a way to have some fun while staying home during the game.

The first step is to act like a real St. Louisan and immerse yourself in the game and the festivities which surround it as early in the day as possible. This means turning on the news, because every TV stations’ news crews here were all down at the ballpark where they belong. If you want to do something heinous in St. Louis and escape media attention, Opening Day is a pretty good choice in terms of timing. A good high speed chase or even a political scandal would be a good choice.”

via The Markel Opening Day Foodstravaganza | Ryan Markel.