The First Family Feast of 2017

I’m not going to lie…New Year’s Day (or Eve, for that matter), isn’t really my thing. After the excitement of Christmas, it just seems blah to me. This year, I wasn’t even going to do a big dinner. We were going to have pot roast, because chuck roasts were on sale last week, and carrots, and that’s it. But I must have felt guilty or something, because I decided we should have mashed potatoes, too. And I figured I should add the children’s favorite vegetable (brussels sprouts), while I was at it. Then I decided to make our favorite Jell-O, too. And then I got really crazy, and resolved (see what I did there?) to make both Parker House rolls and gravy from scratch. So much for ignoring New Year’s Day, I guess!

I’m so not into this holiday, I wasn’t even going to make a dessert. Until I ran across a recipe for mint hot chocolate bread pudding. Fine. I made dessert, too.

I didn’t get out the fancy china this time…because I’m still not into today. But, we had a nice family feast, and I guess it was a pretty good way to start a new year!

Hot Chocolate for New Year’s Eve

This New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar tradition has really stuck! The children look forward to it all month, with suggestions for what we should have. Well, all the children except Chickadee, who is opposed to all warm beverages. She had chocolate milk with whipped cream and sprinkles on top instead!

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This year, we had three different kinds of hot chocolate…mint, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. We also had three kinds of marshmallows…cinnamon, vanilla, and regular. There were also various sprinkles, crushed peppermints and candy canes, and two kinds of Pirouette cookies. Plus chocolate syrup for drizzling on top, and a little bonus addition for the adults. We also added our Christmas crackers to our New Year’s Eve celebration, since we didn’t use them earlier in the week…they just added to the fun!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Christmas 2016

It’s hard to believe that another Christmas Eve and Day have come and gone already!

As always, our celebration started yesterday, with my favorite meal of the whole year…the “pick out dinner.” We had summer sausage, cheese, and crackers, jalapeno popper and buffalo chicken dips, sausage squares, deviled eggs, toasted ravioli, mozzarella sticks, cheese squares, buffalo chex mix, and pizza bagels. Oh, and the chef’s favorite sour beer:

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Then it was time to get ready for church. I wore my traditional Christmas Eve dress and brooch. I’ve featured the brooch here a lot, but I’ve been wearing this same dress every Christmas Eve for at least five years, and I’m pretty sure it’s never appeared here before!

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As they did last year, “The Bigs” sang for Hope Lutheran church in St. Louis’s Christmas Eve Divine Service.

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After we got home, I took lots of pictures:

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And we had Jesus’ birthday cake, and lit all of the candles on the Advent wreath:

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Everyone always opens one present on Christmas Eve. Ryan and I both got slippers, and the children each got a new pair of Christmas jammies:

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Ryan and I also always play Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries on Christmas Eve. The final score was 162 to 131…I’ll let you guess who won!

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After the children went to bed, I made sure everything was ready for the morning.

They always get to open their stockings before Christmas Day church:

I really love our very delicious tradition of cherry coffee cake for breakfast on Christmas morning!

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Another Christmas church service means another Christmas outfit (with a new brooch) for me!

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This year, all four of “The Bigs” served as acolytes. This was Turkey’s first opportunity to be crucifer…he was very excited (and a little nervous)! Bunny was the book bearer, which seemed fitting, and Moose and Ladybug both served as torch bearers.

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I always have to get another picture (or eight) after church:

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When we got home, we had a quick lunch, and then we listened to Ryan read the Christmas story. Chickadee still loves acting it out with our Little People nativity:

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And then there was a flurry of gift opening!

This Christmas has been a little different, but it was still a wonderful weekend to celebrate our Savior’s birth, and spend time together as a family! Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving 2016

We had another fun and happy Markel Family Thanksgiving celebration today!

This year, we had two tables, which were twice as much fun to decorate. I also tried my hand at napkin folding, and was pleased to discover that even though it wasn’t intentional, the napkins rather looked liked turkeys:

We had an extra dish in our food lineup, so the beverages got their own counter:

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We had all of our favorite Thanksgiving foods: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, green beans with almonds, carrots, brussels sprouts, corn and wild rice casserole, and cranberry sauce.

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And a record NINE pies for dessert!

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I love our Thanksgivings…I hope your day was as happy and filled with love and laughter as ours was!

Tasty Tuesday–The Final Christmas Feast

We had Ryan’s birthday dinner a day early today, so we got to have one last 12 Days of Christmas feast! Homemade fish tacos with shredded cabbage and a delicious white sauce, with a chocolate cake for dessert:

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I’m always sad to see Christmas go, but at least we had one last chance to celebrate!

The First Feast of 2016

Only one day into the new year, and we’ve already gotten out the china and had a family feast!

The menu included pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, cherry Jell-O salad, carrots, brussels sprouts, crescent rolls, and the bubbly and sparkling grape juice we never got around to last night, plus tiramisu for dessert:

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What a delicious way to start a new year!

The Final Feast of 2015

I’m not sure that our annual New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar really counts as a feast, but the children seem to think it is, and who am I to argue with them?

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In addition to all of our standard favorites, I made some hot chocolate cookies to go along with our drinks…they were a huge hit!

The 2015 Christmas Feast

As has become our tradition, we waited to have our big Christmas feast until today. I love setting the table for Christmas!

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As has also become our tradition, we had an English-themed meal (complete with Christmas crackers)…turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, carrots, brussels sprouts, cranberries, and rolls. So, pretty much Thanksgiving fare!

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And for dessert, a bûche de Noël and an apple pie, with the first-ever lattice crust I’ve ever done!

Happy Christmas!

Christmas 2015

We’ve had another fun Markel Family Christmas!

Our celebration began yesterday, with our traditional “pick out dinner,” which this year, was actually a “pick out lunch.” I love that it’s never exactly the same two years in a row! I was happy to add an actual cheese board to our spread this year, which came in handy for three of the six cheeses we had. We also enjoyed five types of crackers, two dips with tortilla chips, summer sausage, Volpi roltini, buffalo Chex mix, sausage squares, Mexican cheese squares, pizza bagels, mozzarella sticks, and peppers stuffed with ranch dressing flavored cream cheese:

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Of course I always take a zillion pictures on Christmas Eve…I was very happy with the results!

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We did do something new this year. Since the oldest four children are singing with the children’s Kantorei at Hope Lutheran in St. Louis, we went to church there on Christmas Eve. It was a beautiful service, and their singing was wonderful!

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Back home, we lit all of the Advent wreath’s candles, enjoyed Jesus’s birthday cake, and opened one present each. As is our tradition, Ryan and I played a game of Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, and I hung up our Christmas banner before (reluctantly) going to bed.

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Early Christmas morning, we searched for the pickle on the Christmas tree (to see who would get to hand out presents later), opened stockings (Chickadee got a toy camera so she can continue to pretend to be me!), and enjoyed my special cherry Christmas coffee cake:

Then we went to our church for the Christmas Day Divine Service. Turkey and Bunny were very excited to not just be acolytes, but also torch-bearers in the processional:

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When we got home, we had lunch, and then listened to Ryan read the Christmas story from Luke 2. I loved how intently Bunny listened, and I was amused that Chickadee played along with the story with our Little People nativity scene…I don’t think any of our other children ever did that!

And then we opened presents. I think everyone loved their gifts, especially all of the Lego gifts!

It has been a very happy Christmas indeed, and the celebration is just beginning. I’m looking forward to the full 12 days of Christmas…who knows what’s in store?

Thanksgiving 2015

After a lot of hard work yesterday and today, we were all happy to sit down for our traditional Markel Family Thanksgiving feast this afternoon!

I think I set a pretty nice table, don’t you?

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Our spread was about the same as always, with the addition of a corn and wild rice casserole I haven’t made for a few years:

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And our seven pies for dessert!

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Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!