The First Day of the Rest of My Life

I have never before understood the phrase “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” like I did this morning upon receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but now I’m having a major moment.

Easter in the Time of COVID-19

Time for another look at a Markel Family holiday in the time of COVID-19!

Last year, I was all about keeping as many things as normal as possible for everyone. This year, I decided to embrace the new and different as much as I could. For starters, even though I’m now back to grocery shopping once a week instead of every two weeks, and could have bought hot cross buns from the bakery, I decided to make a batch again this year:

We went to our new church for the evening Maundy Thursday service to begin the Holy Triduum, and it was short, but very nice:

On Good Friday we were back at our new church for an equally moving (and equally short) Tenebrae service:

On Holy Saturday, we watched Rick Steves’ European Easter and made our Paschal candle for the year, as is our tradition. This one didn’t turn out so well, but it still gets the job done!

We attended the Great Vigil of Easter at our new church…I’m so glad they offer that service. More of it was spent outside than we are used to, and that was really nice!

After church, instead of getting sundaes from McDonald’s like we usually do, we got Frosty’s and fries at Wendy’s, and I introduced the Fab Five to the culinary experience that is dipping the fries in the Frosty:

We didn’t have a sunrise service this year, but I was still up early enough to see the sunrise:

And even though we didn’t need to leave the house super-early, I still bought our traditional Pop-Tarts:

It was a beautiful morning!

I took pictures of the Fab Five in the garden outside of church:

Since I couldn’t really take pictures of them inside the church (and especially by the baptismal font) like I usually do, I did that the day of Chickadee’s confirmation:

Our new church is beautiful!

After church, we came home and made Easter breakfast…eggs and sausage, English muffins, pomegranate juice, and every flavor of mini donut I could find…seven varieties. Maybe we’ll be able to go to Easter breakfast at church again in the future, but for now, it’s nice to have the meal at home!

I may have completed all of the Bunny Day goals in Animal Crossing: New Horizons last year, but I still checked in with Zipper T. Bunny:

We had fun watching some of our favorite Easter movies today, including My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, Easter Parade, and It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. While we did that, I made sure the table looked pretty for dinner:

And made our Easter feast for dinner. I tried a new leg of lamb recipe in the crock-pot, which was both amazingly delicious and easy. We also had Greek potatoes, carrot fritters, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, breaded artichokes, cherry Jell-O, and popovers:

For dessert, I made carrot cake Oreo truffles:

No matter what stays the same or what is different from year to year, our reason for celebrating remains constant. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!!

Sartorial Saturday…On a Sunday–Easter Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Time to take a look at the Easter outfit that this year I actually get to wear outside of the house! I bought this Lana dress from Pinup Girl Clothing as a birthday present to myself last year, and as soon as I put it on, I knew it was going to be my Easter dress for this year…the beautiful floral print is perfect for it! Since it’s the midwest, and you never know what the weather is going to be like, I added a Yemak cropped cardigan in the most beautiful shade of purple to go with it.

Easter is an especially good holiday for accessorizing…this year, I’m wearing a sun hat I got from Unique Vintage, but I swapped out the pink tie around it for a beautiful blue floral scarf from Erstwilder. I chose a purple floral necklace and a Splendette duchess bangles stack to go with it, and of I course I added my favorite fancy floral brooch. I’m also really excited about my new Erstwilder handbag!

I’m sure I say this every year, but this may be my favorite Easter look yet…I love all of the floral components! Perfect for a lovely spring day after what seems like a year-plus of never-ending, dark winter!

Of course, I need a mask to go with my outfit, because COVID-19, and I have a coordinating mask that was made to go with my dress! I love how Pinup Girl thinks about the little details!

And one more picture of the outfit in the wild this morning…I changed my shoes (Chickadee asked me to wear sandals so she wasn’t the only one), and I picked a different mask, as well:

After last year’s Easter-at-Home, it’s so nice to be able to get dressed up and go to church. Happy Easter!

Sartorial Saturday…On a Sunday–Mary Blair March in the Time of COVID-19

I know there are a few days of March left, but I’ve worn each of my Pinup Girl Clothing Mary Blair pieces once this month, so I’m ready to call it early.

I’m not going to lie…I wasn’t really looking forward to Mary Blair March this year. After the disaster that was March last year, I didn’t feel the usual excitement about wearing all of my Mary Blair pieces. But I decided I didn’t want COVID-19 to rob me of the fun I have celebrating her artwork, so I soldiered on. This year’s outfits can be divided into two categories…the ones I actually wore away from home, with a mask:

And the ones that went no farther than the street in front of my house…no mask needed:

This year’s Mary Blair March was almost as strange as last year’s was, but at least there’s some hope, a glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel this time around!

Confirmation Day in the Time of COVID-19

Of all the thing that have been different in this last year, I think perhaps today, Chickadee’s Confirmation Day, was the most bittersweet. Everything about this process has been just weird. She had a full year of catechesis, not in person like she began it, but through Zoom meetings. She did a great job, but like so many other things, it just wasn’t the same. And her confirmation wasn’t the same either, because it was at a different church, (the church we’ve been attending since July, and the church we’ll soon be joining as members), and on a different day…usually, Confirmation Day is on Palm Sunday. It was nice that the church was already decorated for it, though:

We were fortunate to have her godfather as well as pastors from both our old and new churches at the private service this morning (another weird thing, since this service is designed to be a public confirmation of faith), which meant a lot to us.

She (and only she, because COVID-19), was able to receive her first communion from a beautiful, historic chalice. (She was also introduced to some other cool church traditions while we were there!)

And we finally got to take a family picture for the first time in I can’t remember how long!

We didn’t get to have a party, but she did still receive some gifts, including a study Bible:

And even though we weren’t expecting a crowd, I made our traditional Confirmation Day punch (a half batch), and ordered a cake from Dierbergs (but just a quarter sheet), as is our custom:

Normally, we probably would have gone out to dinner at Reb Robin, so Chickadee asked me to make burgers as a stand-in. I even found Reb Robin brand fries, and dusted them with extra Red Robin seasoning!

In the end, because it was so unusual, I think this day will be extra memorable, even though it certainly wasn’t what we were planning or expecting!

Tasty Tuesday–Cooking Through a Pandemic, the Twelfth Month

One final monthly wrap-up to round out a full year of pandemic cooking. Well, a year-plus. I stretched this one a little long, because I wanted to come full circle with the two birthday celebrations that were part of the beginning of the pandemic last year, and celebrated within the last week this year. I can only hope that by the time March 2022 rolls around, we’ll have a more “normal” set of birthdays!

We tried a few more new recipes in the last weeks (I made picadillo and gnocchi for the first time, as well as carrot fritters!) , and had several celebrations, including Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, a dinner for Washington’s Birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, and Turkey’s and Chickadee’s birthdays. We also indulged in both Beast Craft BBQ and Wing Runner.

I made lots of desserts and baked goods this month, too, including Oreo truffles, my first attempt at homemade pączki, a cherry pie, popovers, Frango mint brownies, a cannoli cake, pies for Pi Day, a Guinness cake, more cookies than I can count, and birthday desserts in the forms of a trifle and an elephant cake. We also had a Green River Soda cheesecake shipped from Eli’s, and it was amazing!

So there it is…a full year of cooking through a pandemic. I’ve pushed myself hard over the last year to make more special meals for my family, because it was one of the few things I could actually do for them. I also worked hard to try new things, because it was something exciting in the midst of a very dull time. When I look back on this period in our history, I hope I’ll remember the special meals and weekly cookie-baking sessions with Bunny as one of the bright spots in an otherwise dark time!

Nine!

Today is Chickadee’s ninth birthday! First things first…presents! She received some outfits for one of her American Girl dolls, a Lego set from her siblings, and a bunch of new clothes…when you’re the youngest of three girls, getting previously unworn clothes is A Big Deal! There was even an outfit change partway through the day!

When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday breakfast, she requested chocolate waffles. She is the first one of the Fab Five to ask me to actually make something for breakfast instead of getting store-bought cinnamon rolls or Toaster Strudel or something similar. I did cheat a little, and made them last night so they just needed a quick reheat in the waffle iron this morning.

Since we’re still not eating out because of COVID-19, I had her pick something she wanted me to make for dinner. She asked for breakfast again…this time, breakfast casserole and smoothies:

As she often does, she chose an elephant cake for dessert:

This evening, I visited her island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and gave her one of the few yellow dresses she didn’t already own as a gift. I also love the birthday shades she got in the game!

It was a rather low-key birthday for the second year in a row…we didn’t go anywhere or have any visitors. We did watch some of her favorite movies, though, and she introduced me to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which I actually liked quite a lot. We had a very fun day celebrating Chickadee!

The Ottoman Garden–March (For Real This Time!)

Three months into the year, and I’ve already made it farther into my “Mobot Through the Year” series than I did last year!

One of my biggest sorrows last year when everything shut down was missing out on spring at the Missouri Botanical Garden, so I was extremely happy to be able to visit today. And the Ottoman Garden is the perfect spot to catch some early glimpses of spring…if you look closely, you might notice some hyacinths in the pictures!

Now that it’s warmer, I’m looking forward to more frequent visits to the Garden!

A Year of Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Today is the one-year anniversary of the day I began living the island life on Gloriana in Animal Crossing: New Horizons!

It’s been a fun year, and a nice way to escape reality, which, let’s face it, was a necessity over the last 12 months! Let’s take a look back, shall we?

One of the first events was “Bunny Day,” where my old friend, Zipper T. Bunny stopped by:

Cherry blossom season was a lot of fun, but I didn’t collect nearly enough recipes, so I hope we get to do it again this year!

Reese and Cyrus arrived at Harv’s Island for a special wedding-themed event:

My neighbors made my birthday a special day:

And a few days later, my very favorite neighbor, Roald, moved in!

Swimming and diving for deep sea creatures was added over the summer:

The day I received my perfect island rating was A Big Deal:

It wouldn’t have been summer without a fireworks show:

Jack, the Czar of Halloween, hosted a special event in October:

There were moments when island life imitated real life a little too well:

My favorite turkey, Franklin, made a special meal for Turkey Day:

After a few failures, I finally built a perfect snowboy…and then enough others to complete the furniture collection:

And Jingle the black-nosed reindeer let me help him hand out gifts for Toy Day:

I think we were all happy to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021 on New Year’s!

I had fun celebrating all of my neighbors’ birthdays throughout the course of the year, but none more so than Roald!

Pavé brought his amazing dance moves to my island for Festivale:

Mario Day was extra fun with special themed items:

Even Pi Day made an appearance in my game!

And just a few days ago, I celebrated Shamrock Day, island style!

It’s been a fun year on my island, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings…I’m hoping for more familiar characters such as Brewster, Pete, and Kapp’n, and maybe some new events I haven’t even thought of!

18 is Golden

Today is a very special day, because not only is it Turkey’s 18th Birthday, it is also his Golden Birthday! We started the day with gifts…I’m so glad he still likes Lego sets!

His big present was a Lego pirate ship…it took him a good part of the day to build!

He asked for turkey for his birthday dinner…I made most of the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes to go with it:

And a chocolate mocha trifle for dessert:

Frankly, I’m still having a hard time figuring out where the years have gone, but I do know how proud I am of my first-born!