Thanksgiving in the Time of COVID-19

If there’s anything that didn’t change too much for us this year due to COVID-19, it was Thanksgiving. That’s not to say things weren’t different at all, but we never travel for Thanksgiving, so at least we didn’t miss that, and we don’t always have family over, so while we missed seeing them, it wasn’t necessarily expected either. So, a lot of our three-day Thanksgiving holiday looked pretty much the same, starting with Pie Day on Wednesday, when we baked eight pies (seven for our family, and this year, one to give away).

In the middle of the baking, the children also made their yearly hand-and-footprint turkeys…Turkey and Bunny were kind enough to play along again this year at my request, since it is their last year in my homeschool.

We watched a very different version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning (in the words of Al Roker, it wasn’t the parade we wanted, but it was the parade we needed), which we enjoyed very much because it was something somewhat familiar. The same went for the National Dog Show, which was extra exciting for me this year because the dog I wanted to win actually did! And then we got ready for dinner. One of the best parts of any holiday is setting the table:

And the food. There was a lot of food, even with the turkey mishap we had in the morning (I ended up having to throw out the turkey I had purchased to roast, and we decided to order a second Beast Craft BBQ smoked turkey to ensure we had enough leftovers).

It’s always a pretty-looking dinner!

After clean-up and Holiday Inn, I got out the pies:

I limited myself to trying two kinds. This was my first attempt at lemon meringue pie, and I was very pleased with the results!

I made sure to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and helped Franklin prepare his holiday feast:

The day after Thanksgiving has been pretty different. We didn’t get to see Moose march in our town’s Santa Parade this year, which was disappointing…I’d really come to enjoy that event. And there was no town tree lighting or gingerbread house walk or trolley ride to look forward to after dinner. This morning, though, the family traditions did continue with pie-for-breakfast:

And turkey sandwiches for lunch, which I almost like better than Thanksgiving dinner itself!

Lego building is also part of our day-after-Thanksgiving celebration…I built the free-with-purchase A Christmas Carol set we received:

I always make turkey soup for dinner the day after Thanksgiving:

And after dinner, the Fab Five built a Lego Harry Potter set to add to our Hogwarts setup in the school room.

It wasn’t exactly the Thanksgiving we had planned, but all things considered, we had a very nice family celebration!

Pumpkin Picking in the Time of COVID-19

I was kind of worried about pumpkin picking this year. Actually, I had pretty much given up on the idea of us going, and I was planning on just buying a pumpkin when I went grocery shopping, because there was no way we were comfortable with piling into a tractor-pulled wagon with a bunch of people who would hopefully be wearing masks. But then I found out that most sincere pumpkin patch in the area, Braeutigum Orchards, was not only requiring masks and social distancing, they were also offering the option to walk to the pumpkin patch, and that was something we were all comfortable with! Yesterday was the perfect fall day, so we took a break from school to find the Great Pumpkin.

Actually, in some ways, in addition to being a slightly new and different experience, it was a superior experience. We got to see some parts of the farm up close for the first time ever, and it was beautiful:

There were still quite a few pumpkins left, even though it’s pretty late in the season. One thing I love about Braeutigum’s is the wide variety of pumpkin shapes and colors they offer. Being able to borrow one of their hand wagons was a fun new experience, and made our job much easier, too, which is how we ended up with four different pumpkins in three colors!

We stopped to visit the animals while we were there…we always see the chickens and turkeys, but we don’t usually get to see barn cats…we came across at least six of them!

Taking pictures was a little different this year, what with the masks and all, but it’s a memory.

Did I mention it was a beautiful day?

Of course we picked up apple cider and apple cider donuts to enjoy at home:

This was a really positive experience in a surreal time, and made yesterday feel almost like a normal day!

First Day of Twelfth Grade

I can’t believe that Turkey and Bunny are in the 12th grade!

How is it possible that it’s our 13th year of homeschooling?

And a look back at their first day of school here, way back in 2008 when they started kindergarten:

Time moves awfully fast!

Tasty Tuesday–Beast Craft BBQ at Home

We’re “back home” from our virtual vacation, and I don’t feel like cooking…so let’s take a look at Beast Craft BBQ’s family take home packs!

To be honest, more often than not, we would get Beast to go, even before COVID-19 shut everything down. I was still excited when they debuted their new family take home packs (they have offered up to three varieties, to feed two, four, or four to six), though, because it’s so much simpler than taking orders from seven people, and trying to sort it all out once we get it home!

So here’s the deal. A family take home pack for four comes with two pounds of the main course (pork, brisket, turkey, hot links, or smoked cauliflower), one pint of slaw, two sides (one quart each, and you can choose from pit beans, potato salad, bacon mac, cauliflower, and my favorite, sprouts with belly), a half pint of pickle slices, and eight tortillas. We have done this twice, and each time ordered two of the packs (turkey, bacon mac, and sprouts, plus an extra side of beans), to feed our family of seven.

Seriously, have you ever seen a more delicious looking plate of BBQ?!?

Now, even though this meal, as ordered, in theory feeds eight, we have managed to make it last for two dinners both times we ordered, and believe me, no one went hungry at any of the meals. The only thing we ran out of the first night each time was the tortillas, which makes perfect sense, and even though Beast has the most amazing tortillas, let’s face it, they’re not the star of the meal!

I really love that Beast has added this option for this weird time of carry-out/delivery only, and I wouldn’t complain if it stuck around once the dining room opens again, because it’s the perfect option for our family!

Seventeen?!?

The world is crazy right now, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating Turkey’s SEVENTEENTH birthday today! An added bonus: Moose was with us all day, as he’s now doing school from home!

We started the day with gifts. There were quite a few Lego sets, which Turkey started building right away.

We spent most of the day watching episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. All while enjoying the scents of…Thanksgiving? I had an extra turkey in the freezer, and Turkey asked if we could have a mini-Thanksgiving dinner for his birthday!

Instead of pie for dessert, he went with birthday trifle, topped with what has turned into an alarming number of candles:

I think he had a nice day, even with all of the uncertainty in the world around us. I know I had a great time celebrating him!

Tasty Tuesday–Beast Craft BBQ: Sweet and Spicy Turkey Melt

It’s been a while since I tried something new at Beast Craft BBQ. I don’t actually even know how long the Sweet and Spicy Turkey Melt has been on the menu, but I just noticed it over the weekend, and once I did, I knew I was going to have to try it out sooner or later. As it turns out, it was sooner!

The Sweet and Spicy Turkey Melt of course features a generous serving of Beast’s amazing turkey. But it also has bacon jam (yes, please!), jalapeños, Swiss cheese, and tomato aioli, all on wonderfully delicious (and perfectly toasted!) sourdough bread.

In my experience, when a restaurant claims to have a “sweet and spicy” item, usually one of those two tastes is more prominent, and the other is just a vague suggestion. It’s no surprise to me, though, that Beast strikes the balance just right. There’s a pleasant blast of heat from the jalapeños, but that is tempered by the wonderful flavors of the jam and aioli, which pair together beautifully. Oh, and I had to get a side of Brussels sprouts to go with it (still my favorite, and what I usually order, but at least I’ve tried a few other sides here and there!).

I’d say this is my new favorite, and it was while I was eating it, but let’s face it…pretty much everything at Beast is my favorite, and I’m not even going to bother trying to choose a single top item anymore!

2019-20 School Year–Week Twenty

Now that we’ve started the 21st week of the 2019-20 school year, I guess I should wrap up week 20!

Turkey and Bunny worked with polar coordinates in pre-calculus, which was very new and different. They finished the chapter on work and energy in physics. Their study of The Hound of the Baskervilles finally took them to Baskerville Hall. In history, they read about the seventh crusade, and to be honest, it seems like the Crusades will never end!

Ladybug calculated the perimeter and area of different shapes in pre-algebra. She also finished a chapter in science. In history, she learned about several European wars that led up to the American Revolution. Bunny accidentally gave her a spoiler about what is coming up in Anne of Green Gables, and she was not happy about it!

Chickadee had a very light week of school, because she was sick for a few days (she even had to miss catechesis, which made her very sad!). She did a lot of reading, and started her second math book of the year, where she learned how to write fractions. She also started learning about Mars in science.

And, in kind-of-related-to-school activities, Turkey and I went to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back live in concert at Powell Hall with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra last week. I think an important part of any education is music appreciation as well as exposure to cultural events. I’m trying to make sure each of the children has an opportunity to see the symphony play something, and so far, the three oldest children have all accompanied me to Powell Hall for an event. It’s a lot of fun, and a good introduction to live orchestral music without the pressure of a more, shall we say, high-class, event!