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:



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:


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?


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!


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!


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:


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


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!



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.



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:


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?


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:


And our seven pies for dessert!


Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

The First Feast of 2015

Yesterday marked our first feast of the New Year…pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, roast carrots, cherry Jell-O, and crescent rolls, with a champagne cake for dessert:


I’m already looking forward to all of the other special celebrations we’ll be having this year!

A Belleville200 New Year’s Eve Celebration

To celebrate the end of 2014, and the Belleville200 year, we had our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar with a Belleville200 twist. Instead of our standard Christmas mugs, we used the mugs we bought at the Belleville Christkindlmarkt. It seemed like a fitting way to end a spectacular year!


Happy Christmas!

Today we had our big English Christmas feast…turkey and stuffing, two kinds of potatoes, rolls, carrots, parsnips, and brussels sprouts, and homemade cranberry sauce.


We also had a bûche de Noël for dessert.


The table looked so pretty, especially with the festively-patterned Christmas crackers decorating the plates. And popping them open, and enjoying our hats, bad jokes, and trinkets is always a blast!


Happy Christmas!

Christmas 2014

If you’ve ever wondered what a Markel family Christmas looks like, here’s your chance to find out!

The celebration begins on Christmas Eve, with what we have come to call the “pick-out dinner.” This is an appetizer meal we have in the late afternoon before church, and everyone gets to “pick out” one thing that I’ll make or buy. It’s one of our favorite meals of the year!


Before we leave for church, I harass the children and make them let me take pictures…lots and lots of pictures!


Then it’s time to head to church for the children’s Christmas program. This year, Turkey played the part of Gabriel, while Bunny was the head angel, Moose was a shepherd, and Ladybug got to be Mary for the second time. They all did a great job!


After church, we head home, light all the candles in the Advent wreath, and enjoy Jesus’ birthday cake.


Before bed, everyone gets to open one present. For the children, this means new jammies. The boys loved the Yetis I found for them, and the girls thought their bears were cute. I got a new pair of Cardinals slippers! (Not pictured is Ryan’s new Tardis sleep pants.)



Once the children are more or less in bed, Ryan and I put the presents under the tree, fill the stockings, arrange the Little People nativity scene, and then settle down to play Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries while we watch the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker.

In the morning, before church, the children are allowed to open their stockings, and we enjoy a leisurely breakfast of coffee cake (and stocking candy!).

We then head back to church for the Christmas Day Divine Service. After the service is over, I try to get one more group shot of the children.



We have lunch when we get home, and then get down to present opening.

The aftermath of the gift exchange is always quite the sight to see!


After the presents have been opened, and the mess more or less cleaned up, the rest of the day is very relaxed. The children usually play with whatever they received, while we watch Christmas movies (or Doctor Who!), and listen to Christmas music. No big feast for us on Christmas Day…we save that for the day after Christmas. Instead, we enjoy what’s left of the appetizers and the birthday cake from the night before.

That’s our Christmas. It’s always a fun, special day. I hope your Christmas was similarly merry and bright!