Ladybug Turns Seven!

Today is Ladybug’s seventh birthday. I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for almost a year. Here’s why:

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Last year, not long after Ladybug turned six, American Girl announced that they were retiring the one doll Ladybug had always wanted…Molly. She thought this meant that she was never going to be able to have her. What she didn’t know, was that I went out and bought Molly the day they announced the retirement, and put her away for this birthday. Ladybug was confused when she opened the box, and then ecstatic. I’m so happy we could do this for her!

For the first time, she requested a non-decorated cake for her birthday. She decided she wanted me to make the Schlafly sticky toffee pudding cake. I was happy to comply!

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Happy birthday little Ladybug!

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The Schnucks Anniversary Celebration

Today, our local Schnucks store was having a celebration for the store’s 75th anniversary. I’m just weird enough that hanging out at the grocery store on a Saturday morning sounded like a good idea!

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The highlight of the event (for me, anyway), was the barber shop quartet…so fun!

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The front of the store (inside and out), was decorated to give it an old-time feel…I think they succeeded!

I love that Schlafly made a special beer just for Schnucks anniversary!

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Of course there was food:

And cake!

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The soda was even in glass bottles…how old school! (Not pictured is the pineapple Fanta that three of the children tried, and I insisted on sampling…it was so good!)

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Did I mention the throwback uniforms? Bow ties are cool!

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This was a really fun way for Schnucks to include their customers in the anniversary celebration.

Here’s to another 75 years!

St. Louis Scottish Games

This morning, I took my lads and lassies down to Forest Park to check out the St. Louis Scottish Games. We’d never been before, but since we’re wrapping up British history and starting Scottish history, I thought it would be the perfect event to attend. There was so much to see and do…we had a fun (and exhausting!) time!

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There was great stuff for kids, including a play area and getting “passports” stamped by all of the different clans in attendance:

There was a sword-fighting demonstration (Turkey’s favorite part):

And sheep-herding:

There was a dog parade, which was very popular with the children (especially Chickadee), and I learned that there are a lot more breeds of Scottish dogs that I had imagined!

There was also a parade of tartans, with representatives from all of the clans there (Clan Ferguson was the honored clan of the event):

Of course there was food. We tried fish and chips (naturally), Cornish pasties, a Scottish soda called Irn Bru, a deep-fried Mars bar, and, for those of us of legal drinking age (me), the special beer brewed by Schlafly (Eighty Shilling), just for this event. We did not try the haggis, though!

One of my favorite parts was watching the highland dancers and listening to the bagpipes (often at the same time!):

The athletic competitions were also fascinating to watch!

Mostly, though, there was just Scottish pride everywhere!

Céad míle fáilte!

Epic Markelparty

Over the years, our various homes have hosted many Markelparties. We’ve had memorable gatherings in every home we’ve lived in, (at least they were memorable to me!), with varying numbers of guests. I can remember thinking that having five or six guests over was a lot, back when we were in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. But the party we had here last night was truly epic, as we were hosting 18 of Ryan’s co-workers from the Automattic Happiness Team.

I have never prepared so much food for any one event in my life–not even holidays. I actually had to draw myself a diagram of our kitchen counters so I could make sure everything would fit, (of course the diagram and the final arrangement have very little in common)!

The main event was the shredded meat–beef brisket and Dr. Pepper-Chipotle Pork (both recipes courtesy of the Pioneer Woman). Turkey lost a tooth during dinner, courtesy of his brisket sandwich–I don’t think anyone else suffered that fate, though!

We also had a variety of BBQ sauces for people to sample at their discretion, our focus being on “local” flavors from St. Louis and Kansas City.

There were the standard side dishes–baked beans and potato salad, (neither homemade–I’m not Super Woman!), as well as Jalapeño-Cilantro Slaw, for the sandwiches, or just to be enjoyed on its own. I wasn’t impressed with the corn at the grocery store on Sunday, so that got nixed. Oh, and we had the ubiquitous pickles, too.

We had a small salad bar, too, (with another local flavor–salad dressing from The Hill)–it really didn’t get very much attention. Then again, who wants salad when there’s all that delicious shredded beef and pulled pork?

Plenty of snacks–Buffalo Chex mix, potato chips, and a huge veggie tray, with two different dips. The dip I made from scratch was much more popular than the store-provided stuff, even though it didn’t look as cool–the store put their dip in hollowed out bell peppers!

Let’s not forget the drinks–in addition to the iced tea, lemonade, Dr. Pepper, wine, (from Missouri and Illinois), and mixed drink ingredients on the counter, we also had a cooler full of soda and various types of Schlafly beer–another local offering.

And desserts! I made two different kinds of blondies–dried cranberry-chocolate chunk and butterscotch-caramel. These were definitely popular, which is a good thing, because they’re my signature baked good!

After dinner, there was Rock Band. Lots and lots of Rock Band. People rotated in on the various instruments–guitar, bass, drums–even vocals, which is the one thing that is often ignored around here. I don’t think anyone ever played keyboards, though. The fog machine and light kit even made an appearance, although with so many people in the house, the fog didn’t last long!

This was by far the most diverse group of people we’ve ever had in our home. Not only did we have people from all over the country in attendance, but there were literally people from all over the world as well. It was delightful hearing so many charming accents in our home, and a great opportunity for the children to learn first hand what people from different places sound like when they speak. For one evening, anyway, I felt rather cosmopolitan!

In the words of Nathan Fillion as Mal Reynolds on Firefly, it was a “Mighty fine shindig!”

A Feast Fit For A…Patriot

You didn’t think I’d say king on Independence Day, did you?

Over the past few years, I’ve developed our family’s traditional Fourth of July dinner. The main course is the Pioneer Woman’s beef brisket. It is, without a doubt, the best meat dish I have ever prepared. I think the real secret to the success of this dish is the liquid smoke…I look for any reason to use that stuff, and it is simply amazing as part of the marinade for a very slow roasted brisket.

We, of course, had all of the traditional side dishes. Corn on the cob, baked beans, and potato salad.  I have, in the past, attempted to make my own baked beans…they were OK, but not really worth the effort in my opinion. And Bush’s has that secret sauce that the dog’s always trying to give away, so I don’t feel too bad using canned beans. I sometimes make the potato salad from scratch, but not this year…sometimes it’s nice to just relax and enjoy the holiday without making yourself crazy with preparing and cooking!

The beverages of choice for this holiday were root beer, and regular beer. OK, not regular, because it was a fancy Schlafly brew, but still, beer. The children think it’s very exciting any time they get to have soda with a meal, and what’s more American than root beer?

Of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without a little patriotic Funfetti! It may just be a box mix, but there’s something charming about the sprinkle-laden cupcakes. Plus, it’s another tradition…so it’s a necessity, no matter how corny it is!