Tasty Tuesday–Seamus Day

I’ve shared the details of one of our family’s favorite holidays, Seamus Day, here in the past. Every year on February 26th, starting in 2014, we’ve grabbed a meal (either lunch or dinner), at our favorite local pub, Seamus McDaniel’s, in the Dogtown neighborhood of St. Louis. Well, this year, the 26th just didn’t work out, so we had our lunch out on Sunday, instead. But I still wanted to recognize Seamus Day, so here’s a look at what is still the best burger I’ve ever had!

I have to confess, I am a little worried about Seamus. They’ve made a lot of changes (including to the decor and the menu), and the prices took a big jump. For now, anyway, the food tastes as good, which is the most important thing. We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation, though…I want to be warned if the changes extend to the food itself!

Celebrating Reformation 500 with Little Luther

The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is far too big a deal to be limited to just one service! Our celebration started with Luther’s Deutsche Messe at Hope Lutheran in St. Louis on Reformation Sunday, and Little Luther was there with us:

There were other services we could have attended between then and now, but the big event was tonight’s Reformation 500 service at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. We were there early enough to have a nice walk around the campus, and Little Luther got to see all the sights:

Little Luther also joined us for dinner at our favorite restaurant, Seamus McDaniel’s!

The celebration isn’t even over yet…we still have the American Kantorei’s Reformation concert at St. Paul Des Peres on Sunday afternoon!

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!

Zoo Day

Ever since we received a membership to the St. Louis Zoo as a gift, we’ve been planning a big “zoo day,” where we would use our member passes to do everything. Today was that day!


We did it all (I think). We rode the train (several times!), touched the stingrays, went on the Conservation Carousel, visited the Children’s Zoo, and saw the sea-lion show. In between, we visited some of our favorite animals (although, we didn’t get to see as many as we would have liked…it seemed like a lot of the exhibits were being cleaned).

Five hours later, when we had seen and done everything we wanted to at the zoo, we figured that as long as we were so close to Seamus McDaniel’s, we just had to stop in for a late lunch. It was delicious, as always!



We had the perfect St. Louis summer day!

Zoo Friends Day

Today was Zoo Friends Day at the St. Louis Zoo…a special event for zoo members. It’s been years since we last had a zoo membership, and I don’t think we went to this event then, so it was a totally new experience for us!

There were many free activities…we got to ride the carousel, pet the stingrays, and take a lap around the zoo on the Zooline Railroad.


We could have tried to get free tickets to the sea-lion show, as well, but we decided to just watch the feeding, and then walk through the very cool underwater tunnel.

It was a beautiful afternoon to be at the zoo!

Of course, when we were done at the zoo, it just happened to be dinnertime, and we just happened to be six minutes from Seamus McDaniel’s. For the record, I protested…but only a little!


This was the fun way to spend the last day of a busy work week, and the first day of an even busier weekend!

2015 in Review

I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of 2015 already!

January, mercifully, was a quiet month. I finally had the courage to do something wild with my hair that I’d wanted to do for years. We put our membership to the Missouri Botanical Garden to good use with the first of several visits to the Orchid Show, which was a lovely bright spot in the middle of winter.

In February, I enjoyed the first of many meals from Belleville’s new BBQ restaurant, Beast Craft BBQ…it didn’t take long for word to spread and everyone to learn what I had realized at first bite…it’s an awesome place to eat! We celebrated Mardi Gras. I wrote the first of about two dozen articles for the Sisters of Katie Luther, something I hope to keep doing in the new year. We went with our church on a field trip to the LC-MS International Center.

March is always a busy month, and this year, it came in like a lion. We celebrated an epic Pi Day, and three days later, celebrated one of our favorite holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. The day after that was Turkey’s 12th birthday, and a few days later, Chickadee turned three. Spring arrived at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

In April we celebrated Easter. We had a lovely walk through the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden during cherry blossom time. We visited Forest Park and marveled at how beautiful the tulips were. We had our traditional Opening Day dinner, and a few days later went to our first game of the season at Busch Stadium. I met KSDK news anchor Nichole Berlie for lunch at my favorite restaurant, Seamus McDaniel’s.

As always seems to be the case, life got even busier in May. We had a fun Cinco de Mayo dinner, followed the next day with a tea party to celebrate the birth of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Ladybug turned eight. We went to Art on the Square. Ryan and I celebrated our 14th anniversary with a family trip to the zoo and lunch at Seamus McDaniel’s. I went with Moose on a school field trip to Willoughby Farm. We were blown away by the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

We went to the St. Louis Zoo to visit its newest resident, Kali the polar bear, in June. We celebrated my birthday. The oldest four children attended a choir camp, which included a few field trips, like one to see an organ being built. While they were singing, Chickadee and I got to hang out and have fun. We didn’t go to many of Turkey’s baseball games, because almost half of them were rained out. We celebrated the beginning of Ryan’s 11-week sabbatical with a Grand Opening visit to St. Louis’s first Tim Horton’s. We went on the first of many summer school field trips.

July was the highlight of our year, without a doubt. We celebrated the Fourth of July, and the day after Bunny got home from a week at camp, we celebrated her 11th birthday. A few days later, we left on our first-ever family vacation! We started in Bowling Green, KY, where we visited the National Corvette Museum. We then drove to Atlanta, Georgia, where we took in a Braves game at Turner Field. After that, we headed to our main destination of Charleston, SC, where we got to visit historic locations like Fort Sumter, see amazing architecture, eat fantastic seafood, meet great people, and, most importantly, see the ocean! Back home, we went on the second of our summer school field trips when we visited the first location of the Illinois’ State Capital.

In August, we wrapped up summer school with even more field trips. We visited the oldest standing Capitol Building in Vandalia, the Old State Capitol Building in Springfield, and the Illinois State Capitol Building. We also toured the Illinois Museum, and saw some Lincoln sites, including the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and Lincoln’s Tomb. On our way back home, we visited a Route 66 attraction, the Cozy Dog Drive In. Moose started fourth grade, and a few days later, I became the teacher of a pre-schooler, a third grader, and two seventh graders!

Moose got to miss a day of school in September to go with us on a field trip to the Magic House. We had a tea party to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s historic reign. A new exhibit opened at the Missouri History Museum, and we enjoyed walking through it. We attended the St. Louis Scottish Games at their new location in Chesterfield.

We went to Eckert’s in October to pick pumpkins and apples. We had to replace our washer and dryer. Bunny’s volleyball team came in second place! Lego announced an upcoming set for which I have waited years (and which I will be purchasing tomorrow, thanks to my children’s generosity at Christmas!). Ladybug and I went on a Clydesdale tour at Grant’s Farm. We helped the Gateway Arch celebrate its 50th birthday.

At the beginning of November, I dyed my hair another wild color, but this time for a purpose. We spent a beautiful fall morning in Forest Park. The children got hooked on Bob Ross. Seamus McDaniel’s celebrated its birthday, and the next day, Moose turned ten. We went to the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We had our traditional Markel-family Thanksgiving. We visited the St. Charles Christmas Traditions festival and the Holiday Lights at the Brewery in the same day.

December was a whirlwind of activity. Moose got to really enjoy Tuba Christmas for the first time. We celebrated St. Lucia Day. All seven of us (and a friend) went to Star Wars opening night, and had an amazing time! My blog hit a milestone. We had a very merry Christmas, and enjoyed a delicious Christmas feast (even I agreed that the turkey wasn’t dry!). I finally picked my favorite photos from the year.

As always, I’m left wondering how next year can possibly top this one, but I am also excited to see what 2016 has in store for us. God’s blessings on your coming year!

Happy Birthday Seamus McDaniel’s!

Today, Seamus McDaniel’s, our family’s favorite restaurant, and home of the best burger in St. Louis, is celebrating their 30th birthday. The mayor even declared it Seamus McDaniel’s Day in St. Louis! And even though it’s Sunday, a day they’re normally closed, they had a big party…”Cheers and Beers to 30 Years!” Of course I had to stop by with Chickadee while the rest of the children were at choir practice and have a pint:

It’s hard to believe, but Ryan and I have been eating there for almost half of those 30 years. I’ll never forget how awesome it was to live within walking distance when we were first married and new St. Louis residents. We’ve been to Seamus more times than I can count over the years, but here are a few of my favorite recent Seamus memories:

This is a bittersweet celebration, of course, because Jim wasn’t able to attend. But his memory and hard work building this establishment with his wife are always evident, and his spirit lives on in his family…I just wish he could have raised a glass to the next 30 years with all of the folks celebrating there today!

Tasty Tuesday–The Best Burger in St. Louis!

A few months ago, the morning news show for our local NBC affiliate, KSDK, was looking for the best hamburgers in St. Louis. I was only too happy to volunteer the name of our favorite restaurant, Seamus McDaniel’s, because they make the best burger I’ve ever had. I was kind of shocked when KSDK contacted me and asked if they could take me to lunch and interview me about the food, but I wasn’t going to turn down a free lunch at Seamus, so I met with Nichole Berlie and introduced her to the wonder that is the Seamus burger. The segment aired in May, and even though I felt completely awkward when they were filming me eating, I’m happy with how it turned out!

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary, and I can’t think of a better excuse for being sentimental, so you’ll have to forgive the trip I’m taking down memory lane today.

Our first home in St. Louis was at Park Clayton Apartments in the Dogtown neighborhood. The apartment itself was pretty basic, but the neighborhood was the perfect place to live in and get to know St. Louis.


Shortly after moving in, Ryan and I both got jobs at the Brentwood Target…he worked security, and I was the store’s operator, answering the phone and doing some basic clerical work.


I can’t mention our early days in St. Louis without mentioning Concordia Seminary. I’m not going to lie…I have more mixed feelings about this place than any other St. Louis location. But it was the reason we moved down here in the first place, and it was a focal point of our lives for several years, and continues to be part of our lives even today, so I have to give credit where it is due.


Another place we spent a lot of time was at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Bridgeton. In his first year at the Seminary, Ryan was assigned this congregation as his field work church for two years. In his second year of field work, I also started working there, as a DCE intern.


We have lived in two other apartments in the St. Louis area…first at The Pavilion in Maryland Heights, following our move back to St. Louis after Ryan’s vicarage in Green Bay, WI.


And then at Village Green in Chesterfield, for just over a year. This was definitely the nicest apartment that we lived in, even if it wasn’t in a charming neighborhood like Dogtown!


Of course, we landed permanently in Belleville about eight-and-a-half years ago:


There are other important to us places from our early marriage I could mention…places we both worked, like the International Center, Circuit City (of blessed memory) in Chesterfield, and Concordia Publishing House. I could also talk about the hospital where four of our children were born (Mercy Medical Center, formerly St. John’s Mercy). I could even mention other specific Dogtown locations, such as the former Chuy Arzola’s Mexican restaurant or the former Gewinner’s Market (both places that were significant to me in the pregnancy cravings department when I was awaiting Turkey’s arrival). I will mention the St. Louis Zoo, as we spent the morning of our first wedding anniversary there…what can I say? It was within walking distance of our apartment, and free, which was great back then when we had no money! We did the same again today, thirteen years later, this time with five additional Markels joining us!



And of course, Seamus McDaniel’s in Dogtown, also within walking distance of our first apartment, and home to many family celebrations over the years, just as it was today.


Sure, we’ve gotten older, but we still look happy to be together, don’t we?


I can’t really think of a better way to spend our anniversary, than going to a fun place as a family, enjoying a meal together at our favorite restaurant, and then taking a walk (or drive, as the case may be), down memory lane!