The Top Five–Things I Miss

I’m sure we’re all missing things from our old “normal” lives…here’s a look at the top five things I’m missing, and for once, it’s exactly five items, and I didn’t even have to think to come up with them!

  • Church/Choir–This one was a no-brainer. I am thankful for our online church services, because we can still hear the Word, but it’s just not the same. I also really miss hearing my family sing in their various choirs at church, even though I am not musically gifted myself.
  • Extended Family/Friends–Another no-brainer is missing visiting family and close friends or having them visit us. Again, I’m thankful for other ways to communicate, like phone, text, or video chats, but it’s still not the same. We’ve already missed out on so many opportunities to gather that should have been on the calendar, and that’s just sad.
  • Chicago–I really missed our annual Memorial Day Weekend trip to Chicagoland. I missed it so much, I even created a virtual vacation. Not getting to see the skyline, and especially Lake Michigan, was really hard for me, and even though I enjoyed looking back through photos from previous trips, once again, it’s just not the same.
  • The Missouri Botanical Garden–I guess this is the number one St. Louis area location I’m missing. Normally, we go to the Garden at least once a month, and in the springtime, it can be more like once a week. Besides missing walking around the Garden and seeing all of the beautiful flowers in bloom, I’m also sad that I had to abandon my yearly photo project.
  • Wandering Around Target for No Reason at All–This is a silly one, but still a big deal to me. I really miss just impulsively stopping at Target and looking for absolutely nothing in particular. There have been some weeks (including one right before COVID-19 became a big deal), where I have literally stopped at Target five days of the week. Even if I don’t come out with anything, there’s something fun about shopping there, but I haven’t stepped in a Target for over two months!

What do you miss most from life pre-COVID-10?

A Story of Spaetzle

Last week, I shared our family’s favorite spaetzle recipe. But as is the case with so many recipes, it’s not just about the food…it’s also about the story.

I first attempted making homemade spaetzle about a decade ago (give or take). I didn’t have a spaetzle maker at the time, so I just pushed the batter through the holes in a colander. It was kind of a lot of work, but I was so excited to make one of my favorite German foods, and share it with my family.

But 10 years ago, my oldest child was five. And everyone knows that five-year-olds (and their younger siblings) aren’t exactly the most adventurous eaters. So Ryan and I enjoyed the spaetzle, but nobody else even tried it. And I decided it just wasn’t worth the effort to make it again.

Until last year. I was planning a German meal for the Fourth of July, and I decided to give it another go. I even ordered a spaetzle maker, which made the job a lot easier, and this time, everybody tried it. It seemed like the children liked it ok, but I didn’t think they were thrilled with it, so I still didn’t make it too often. But a few weeks ago, I had some extra sauerkraut, so I figured I would make some spaetzle to go with it. And suddenly, children were appearing, and begging for a bowl. Apparently, they hadn’t just liked it last year, they loved it. And they still do.

I’ve lost track of how many batches of spaetzle I’ve made in the last few weeks. Today, I tripled my recipe, just to make sure we have enough to go with tonight’s dinner, and to enjoy with lunches throughout the week. It’s a HUGE bowl, but I bet I’ll go through it faster than I expect.

Ten years ago, I despaired of ever sharing this part of my heritage with my children. Now they can’t get enough. So if you’re dealing with young children, and longing to share favorite things from your past with them, whether recipes, books, games, movies, or anything else, just give it some time. They may not appreciate it today, or tomorrow, or even a year from now, but eventually, their tastes may change, and you’ll be left just wondering what you got yourself into!

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Quote of the Day

The holidays are coming!

But let me share with you a typical Thanksgiving at the Turk household: It starts with my mother yelling at my sister for yelling at my grandmother who’s yelling at the television screen, which happens to be the microwave. And then my militant brother Jabari – formerly Bob – gives my father attitude for using the word black, even though he’s referring to the turkey. Which, by the way, only got burnt because instead of turning the oven off, my bi-polar aunt Leslie tried to shove her head in it. But you know what we do? We kiss… and we hug… and we apologize for all the things we said… ‘Cause a month later, we gonna get together and do it again at Christmas! Donald Faison as Dr. Chris Turk on Scrubs

The Day-After-Thanksgiving Legostravaganza!!!

The day after Thanksgiving is always a fun day in the Markel house, starting with pie for breakfast, and continuing on through the day with TV-watching, leftovers-eating, and turkey soup for dinner. But the highlight of the day is always the building of the new Lego Winter Village set for the year. Everyone gets to join in the fun!

This year, we had a few small sets: a town square and a train ride, plus a nutcracker.

And the big set…the Winter Village Station, to go with the train we assembled last year! I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to build the bus, because it reminds me of the Columbia Inn’s taxi in White Christmas! I especially love the presets in the rooftop carrier.

The station itself is also pretty cool…there’s a lot of nice little details, including a coffee shop inside!

The station joined the train under the tree in our living room, and I love the way it adds to our wintry scene of happy travelers!

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!

The Lego Winter Holiday Train

Thanks to the great sink fiasco of 2016, we were a day late building our Lego Christmas set for the year, but this evening, we sat down and got it done.

Each member of our family had a specific task:

In addition to the train itself, there were five new minifigs and a whole bunch of Lego toys and Christmas presents, which were built by Bunny and Chickadee:

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Ryan started with the engine:

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And Moose built the coal car:

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Turkey took car of the toy car, which also includes a cool revolving Christmas tree:

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And I built the passenger car/caboose:

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The track just fits around the base of our living room Christmas tree, and the gingerbread house that Ladybug built is the perfect complement to the set:

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This is the first Christmas set that we’ve built that isn’t a part of our winter village display, but I love having a train around our tree! And if we want to in the future, we can add Lego Power Functions to it, so that it can actually go!

Easter Morning 2016

We had a very joyous Easter morning!

The big four all got to play parts in our church’s annual reenactment outside before the sunrise service. Turkey was the angel, Moose was a guard, and Bunny and Ladybug were the women on their way to the tomb:

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It was a beautiful morning, and we had plenty of time for taking pictures outside between the services:

I also took a lot of pictures inside…our church looks so beautiful at Easter!

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I even harassed everyone into taking a family photo!

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I hope your Easter was as blessed as ours was!

A Markel Family Thanksgiving

I’ve shared bits and pieces of our Thanksgiving traditions here and there, but if you ever wondering what the whole event looks like, from start to finish, here is your chance to find out.

In our house, Thanksgiving is a three-day event. It begins on Wednesday, or what I like to call “Pie Day.” I bake a different pie for each member of our family (although we all eat all of them), and so Wednesday is a day of baking pies. Lots and lots of pies. I also prep the stuffing and make the cranberries on this day, and do a little prep work for Friday’s dinner, as well…lots of vegetable chopping! We have a few fun family activities, like making hand-and-footprint turkeys and reading our favorite Thanksgiving books, too. And we have our favorite shows to watch…the children get to watch the Gilmore Girls “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” episode as well as the ¬†Mad About You episode “Giblets for Murray” with us, and when they’re not around, Ryan and I watch all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes, plus the Chuck Thanksgiving/Black Friday shows. In some ways, I like this day better than the holiday itself!

Thanksgiving Day always begins bright and early with Ryan buying me breakfast from Jack in the Box or McDonald’s (to fuel me through all my work), the Macy’s Parade, complete with bingo cards for the children, and a bath for the turkey in the sink, because no matter how early I start thawing it, it’s always still partially frozen on Thanksgiving Day. We usually watch some of the dog show after the parade, and we have fun playing Animal Crossing, and helping Franklin not be part of the town dinner! A lot of this day involves waiting…waiting for the turkey to thaw, waiting until it’s time to put it in the oven, waiting for it to be done (often earlier than I’m expecting), waiting to smack Ryan’s hand when he steals some of the stuffing from the crock-pot, waiting until it’s time to work on the rest of the side dishes, which include a corn and wild rice casserole, green beans with almonds, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and (store-bought) gravy, and rolls. Somehow, it all gets made, and it’s all usually even warm when it hits the table!

After dinner, it is, of course, clean up time. Cleaning up the dishes, putting away the leftover food, and boiling down the turkey carcass for soup the next day. While I’m working on this, we always watch Holiday Inn…I’m so glad the living room is open to the kitchen so I can multi-task! After the clean-up is done, and the broth is put away, we enjoy our seven pies for dessert…although I don’t think anyone has ever tried all seven on Thanksgiving Day itself! Once all my work is done for the day, the children might get to have some bonus video game time, while Ryan and I either finish watching our TV shows or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Our three-day celebration concludes on Black Friday, a day where we avoid any and all stores if at all possible. Instead, we begin our morning at a decent hour, and enjoy leftover pie for breakfast. The rest of the morning is pretty low-key, but after lunch, the fun begins again, with the building of the yearly Lego Christmas set. This is one of my favorite newer traditions, and is a great family activity. At some point, I start the turkey soup for the night’s dinner, which isn’t too much work thanks to all of the prep work I will have already done. And right after dinner, we head out to our city’s town square (which is really a circle, but I digress), for the town tree-lighting, a community sing, and a trolley ride past the stores hosting the annual Gingerbread Walk. While we’re out, Ryan always buys two bread bowls at St. Louis Bread Co. for our soup leftovers lunch the following day, and then we head home for a quiet evening…or what’s left of it!

I’ve really come to love our Thanksgiving traditions, and even though it’s a lot of work, I can’t imagine doing it any other way!

The Lego Winter Toy Shop

One of my favorite things about the day after Thanksgiving is sitting down to build our new Christmas Lego set. This year, Lego re-released a set we had previously missed out on…the toy shop. I was very glad to have a second chance to add this to our village!

Each member of the family had a job to do, although Chickadee’s was largely supervisory:

In addition to the shop itself (which has some great details, including a highly prized light brick), the set came with a village Christmas tree, another bench, and some fun minifigs (including a pair of carolers). We also got to build the two free-with-purchase sets from this year…a Christmas train and a gingerbread house:

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Next year, we’ll have to relocate our village…there is officially no more room on this shelf!

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This tradition is a fun way to kick off our family’s Christmas celebrations every year!