Sartorial Saturday–The Top Five Favorite Fashion Purchases of 2021

Time for one last “Top Five” list for 2021!

2021 was a year where I explored new options for my wardrobe, found some new favorite retailers, and really discovered what I like and I want I don’t in my clothing and accessories. I added some special pieces to my collection, starting with this Erstwilder brooch inspired by Animal Crossing:

Speaking of Animal Crossing, I have never been as excited about a makeup collection as I was about the ColourPopxAnimal Crossing collaboration!

Miss Candyfloss quickly became my favorite vintage-inspired clothing brand in 2021, and I think the Myrtle-Sun dress was my favorite out of the ones I purchased (although, everything I have in my closet from their brand is simply amazing!):

I explored my heritage in a sartorial way this year by adding two dirndls from Rare Dirndl to my wardrobe. They’re both beautiful, but I’m sharing “Die Heimat” because the other was a gift, so not technically something I purchased myself.

And finally, a look at a few pieces from Splendette’s Christmas line…this is my favorite Christmas collection they’ve offered to date!

I’m looking forward to discovering what new things all of my favorite brands offer in 2022!

2021 in Review

We started the year off cautiously optimistic that things would be better than 2020…I guess it’s up to the individual to decide how much truth there is to that! I do know that over the course of the last 12 months, our entire family has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and some of us have also been able to get booster shots, and for that I am extremely grateful. There were, of course, ups and downs to 2021…here’s a look back at some of our moments.

In January, we rang in the new year in our traditional way. Ryan celebrated his birthday on a day when it felt like the world was falling apart. We enjoyed a nice Burns Night Supper. We finally had enough snow to play in. Bunny gave me a haircut in our kitchen salon. I began a second attempt at photographing the Ottoman Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden every month.

February is never my favorite month of the year, and this year was no exception, but I was very excited about the ColourPop Animal Crossing collaboration. I finally made pączki from scratch, after threatening to do so for I don’t even know how many years. Ryan was the first member of the family to get a COVID-19 vaccine…he went to a mass vaccination site that was held not too far from our home. We had a nice celebration in honor of George Washington’s Birthday.

March is always a fun, busy month, and that was true this year more than most. We did start of the year on a serious note, as we reflected on a full year of COVID-19’s influence on our lives. We had a fun time celebrating MAR10 Day and then Pi Day. Ryan received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and we all breathed a sigh of relief at the knowledge that one member of the family was fully vaccinated. We were all excited to hear from Lucky the Leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day. Turkey turned 18, and I still can’t believe it! I celebrated one year of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Chickadee turned nine! She was also confirmed at our new church in a very quiet, private service, which was just another strange thing COVID-19 has brought us.

We started April strong with a fantastic Easter celebration, especially after our subdued Easter-at-home in 2020. Turkey, Bunny, and I went to a vaccine clinic at our local hospital and received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and celebrated with smoothies from Smoothie King afterward. We visited Origami in the Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time.

In May, Turkey, Bunny, and I were back at the vaccine clinic to receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and Moose and Ladybug got their first doses at Walgreens. We celebrated “May the Fourth” and the “Revenge of the Fifth.” Ladybug turned 14 on Mother’s Day. We took a very special field trip to Grant’s Farm. Ryan and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Ladybug finished 8th grade. After 13 years of homeschooling grades K-12, Turkey and Bunny graduated from high school (and I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet!)! We bought a new double oven, which makes our endless cookie baking much easier!

We started preparing for Tokyo 2020 in June with a summer school that was, like the Olympics themselves, delayed a year. Moose and Ladybug received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. We visited Origami After Hours at the Missouri Botanical Garden. I shared a tour of my Animal Crossing: New Horizons island (I’ve made quite a few changes since then). I had a very nice birthday. Chickadee got braces! We saw the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.

In July, I continued my Animal Crossing: New Horizons tours with a peek inside my home, a look at my neighbors’ homes, and a visit to the museum. I also took a look at one of my neighbor’s obsession with the native fruit. We actually took a trip and visited Bowling Green, KY! We also stopped in Nashville to see the Nature Pop! Lego exhibit. Bunny turned 17…the second Golden Birthday of the year! We visited Francis Olympic Field and the Olympic Spectacular in St. Louis. The Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremonies were finally held, and I made a Japanese dinner to celebrate.

August was a Big Month. Moose attended band camp for the first time…all day, five days a week for two weeks, and he loved it! We watched as much of the Olympics as we could…there were a lot of great moments! Turkey and I finally visited the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station. We began a new school year, and I found myself with only two students in my classroom for the first time in years, with Ladybug in ninth grade, and Chickadee in fourth. Moose started his second year of high school, but his first year in-person, and he loved that, too, especially all of his band performances and competitions! Turkey and Bunny started college (spoilers: they both earned straight As in their first semester!). I abandoned my photography project of the Ottoman Garden for the second year in a row, but for very different reasons. We visited a beautiful sunflower field!

September was a quiet month. We did a lot of cooking in school, trying recipes from around the world, and from the Little Women Cookbook. We also took a field trip to Forest Park and visited the St. Louis Zoo. We had our annual family Oktoberfest celebration.

In October we went pumpkin picking, and we were even able to go on a day when everybody could come along. We finished cooking our way through the Little Women Cookbook. I had fun celebrating Erstwilder’s 10th birthday. We had a nice Reformation Day/Halloween.

We started November with a fun “Outdoors Week” in school. Bunny and I were very excited about the update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons! Moose turned 16! I wear dirndls now. We went to Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Chickadee finally got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Walgreens…and then a few weeks later, got the second, as well! We visited Creve Coeur Lake. We had fun doing all of our traditional Thanksgiving activities in school. I learned something really interesting in church. Pie Day involved making nine pies this year! Our three-day Thanksgiving celebration was very nice, especially because this year, we could have visitors. We started our new Advent Lego project.

That brings us to December, one of the best months of the year. Bunny participated in a speech contest at college and placed third in the persuasive category. We made our triumphant return to Christmas Traditions. Speaking of traditions, we may have come up with a new family tradition for St. Nicholas Day. We had fun celebrating Santa Lucia Day. Christmas School was a lot of fun! We got to hear Moose play in a band concert for the first time in two years. I’m really into gnomes right now…no, seriously! We finished building the Lego Millennium Falcon, but we’ve yet to figure out where it’s going to go…it’s an enormous set! We had a very nice three-day Christmas that included lots of church and visiting with family. I wasn’t ready for Christmas to be over, so we visited the Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo for the first time.

I think it’s safe to say that for us, at least, this year really was better than the last. I know that wasn’t true for everybody, so my hope for 2022, whatever is may bring, is that more people are able find joy and things to celebrate in the midst of whatever chaos we’re still living in!

The Top Five–Photos of 2021

Yesterday was all about food photos; today I’m looking at everything else, starting with an icy picture I took last winter:

I love how sharp the shadows in this photo I took on my birthday are:

I took this picture of the Nashville skyline last summer:

And a fall picture of our church framed by leaves:

I’ll end with a beautiful fall sunset:

I’m looking forward to taking more pictures in different and interesting places in 2022!

Tasty Tuesday–The Top Five Food Photos of 2021

Time to take a look back at some of the prettiest food photographs I’ve taken this year! Not surprisingly, over 50% of them are desserts…I really like baking!

We may not have had a party for Chickadee’s Confirmation in March, but I still made our favorite punch, and I took a very nice picture of it:

This lemon blueberry cake has got to be one of the most beautiful cakes I’ve ever made!

The cranberry custard pie I made for Thanksgiving may not have fully set inside, but the outside looked gorgeous!

The Bløtkake with sugared cranberries I made for Santa Lucia Day was simple, but lovely:

I can’t believe how easy salame roses are to make, and they look so cool!

I’m looking forward to trying more new and beautiful recipes in 2022!

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!

2020 in Review

“It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.”

All jokes from The Golden Girls aside, I think we can all agree that this was an “annus horribilis” for the entire world. It’s difficult to look back at all of the things we didn’t do this year, and challenging to look for the positives we did experience. But there were positives, and I’m going to try to focus on those…as much as I can, anyway.

Way back in January, the world was still “normal,” so to speak. I started the year looking forward to many things, some of which actually happened! We attended the Star Wars First Friday at the St. Louis Science Center. Ryan celebrated his 40th birthday! We traveled north to Chicago for Frosty Faustings, and visited Brookfield Zoo and Medieval Times while we were there. On the way home, we stopped by the Chicago Baháʼí Temple, the lakefront, and of course Portillo’s. Turkey and I went to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back live in concert at Powell Hall with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

By February, everyone had heard of COVID-19, but we were still unsure of its impact on us. So we carried on mostly as usual, although there was already a certain wariness, such as when Bunny and I went to see Riverdance at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, and wondered about the person coughing just a few seats down from us. We celebrated Bobunk with a carryout meal from Beast Craft BBQ…if only I had known then that the few other meals we got from restaurants this year would all have to be carryout! We had what would be our last field trip of the year to see the DaVinci exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center. We visited the Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We were sad to say farewell to Pheasant Run Resort (from a distance), as it ceased operations at the end of the month.

Obviously, the world turned upside down in March. It started out ok, with me getting bangs, Ladybug and I getting some ear piercings together, and what ended up being the last time I would visit the mall this year. I got a new iPhone. But then the announcement came that the schools in the area were moving to distance learning, which ended up lasting through the end of that school year…and the start of the next. Turkey and Bunny were worried that the SAT that they had been diligently preparing for would also be cancelled, but they were in pretty much the last group to get in to take it…and both did exceptionally well! We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Turkey turned 17! One of the highlights of my year was the day Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released…the same day that the stay at home order for our state was announced. Chickadee turned eight! She started doing catechesis from home on Zoom, while Moose started doing school from home with the rest of us.

April was a weird month. We attended all of the Holy Week and Easter services in our living room, where we also attended regular Sunday services for three months straight. The announcement was made that the school buildings would remain closed through the end of the school year. I started grocery shopping once every two weeks (no small task when you’re shopping for a family of seven and don’t have a bonus fridge or freezer!), and started wearing a mask everywhere even before it was required…I was very thankful we already had one Ryan received at a previous Combo Breaker!

I’m not going to lie…May was a very difficult month for me. It was almost impossible not to dwell on all of the things I usually look forward to that month that we weren’t doing. Ladybug turned 13! We celebrated Mother’s Day in an unusual way. The 2019-20 school year came to an end. So did Moose’s school year, complete with a virtual 8th grade graduation. I imagined a virtual vacation to Chicago in lieu of our annual trip north for Combo Breaker, which, like everything else this year, was cancelled.

June came with its own challenges, as we realized that with school over, we really had nothing to do. I did plan a few fun activities, and we actually left the house as a family! I celebrated my 3rd 39th birthday with Roald and a reminder of Lake Michigan. I trimmed my own bangs for the first time! For the first time in almost three months, I finally put gas in the minivan. I got in line in a virtual waiting room to “secure the asset”…The Child!

In July we were finally able to attend church in person, and I Was Glad! We watched Hamilton so many times. We also watched every Pixar movie, including a few we hadn’t seen yet. Bunny turned 16! I achieved a perfect island rating in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

In August, we had a Hamilton-themed movie night at home. Did I mention we made a lot of waffles over the summer? I think we were all relieved when school started up again, (Turkey’s and Bunny’s senior year!!!), because at least it was something mostly normal…although Moose was still distance learning.

September saw us getting a lot of use out of our new omelette maker. We celebrated Oktoberfest. We were relieved that the temperature finally cooled off, and we could start enjoying our morning walks around our neighborhood again. We had a special feast for Michaelmas Eve.

Some things in October seemed almost normal. Ladybug and Chickadee started working on an election lap book in the lead-up to Election Day, and I was able to show them what an actual ballot looks like before Ryan and I voted in a new way. Bunny and I were very excited that Supermarket Sweep came back on the air, this time with the inimitable Leslie Jones as the host. Continuing a trend of breaking electronics this year, I got a new laptop. We went pumpkin picking! We had a stay-at-home Halloween, which honestly wasn’t that unusual for us.

November was another hard month, although it started out pretty well. We took our annual walk around Creve Coeur Lake. Ladybug and Chickadee finished their lap books just in time for what I’m sure will be a very memorable Election Day! We attended Garden Glow. Moose turned 15! Then things kind of fell apart. My mom spent almost two weeks in the ICU and about a month after that in a rehabilitation facility. Things were kind of a blur during that time, but we still visited Cahokia Mounds in the lead-up to Thanksgiving, baked a ton of pies, and had a very nice family dinner. I even participated in my second Dapper Day (At Home) in the midst of all of that! The beginning of Advent at the end of the month, and a special Lego project with it, was a very welcome time.

And that brings us to December. I guess I had kind of been dreading this month all year, because I knew how many special Christmas traditions and events we were going to miss. And we did. Some things weren’t too difficult to let go of, and others really hurt. But there were a lot of good moments, too. We got to preview the newest concept from Beast Craft BBQ, Beast Southern Kitchen & BBQ, before they opened to the public (from home, of course). We decorated the Christmas tree on St. Nicholas Day, like we always do. We also celebrated Santa Lucia Day. We had a very nice Advent, and this may have been our best week of “Christmas School” ever! My website celebrated a significant anniversary. We had a very nice Christmas, including a new experience of dressing for an outdoor Christmas Eve service, and a delayed yet still lovely Christmas dinner. We also participated in what I hope will become a new day-after-Christmas tradition, Lego Build Day.

This wasn’t the year anybody wanted. It’s certainly not a year I’d care to repeat. But it is part of our history, and we definitely won’t forget it!

The Top Five–Photos of 2020

For my final “Top Five” list of 2020, I’m looking at photos that were taken the few times we actually went somewhere, starting with this wolf we saw at Brookfield Zoo back in January:

One of the last places Bunny and I went was to the Fabulous Fox Theatre to see Riverdance in February:

We took a lovely walk around Creve Coeur Lake in November:

Later that month, we attended Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Because the event started earlier than usual, we had the added bonus of not just seeing beautiful lights, but also a carpet of bright yellow gingko leaves!

When we visited Cahokia Mounds in November, I thought this tree stump was really cool:

It wasn’t hard to choose these pictures, because I just didn’t have many pictures taken away from home from which to choose. But in a way, that made these moments more special, and helped me appreciate the beauty around me in a way I might not have otherwise!

The Top Five–Around the Neighborhood Photos of 2020

For today’s “Top Five,” I’m venturing out of the house…and into our neighborhood. We might not have been able to go places this year, but we spent a lot of time walking around our subdivision, from the 2-mile walks we took in the morning before school started every day the weather was amenable to evening sunset walks. The two ponds in our neighborhood are an especially good spot for a nice view, starting with this one in the early spring:

I really like this tree I started noticing while we were walking, and I think Bob Ross would have liked it, too…it looks like it’s led an interesting life!

I caught the evening light at just the right moment for this photo:

And I’m pretty sure the evening light caught me for this one!

One last sunset photo, near one of the ponds, but looking out toward the farmland that borders the neighborhood:

My only disappointment with this list is that there aren’t any snow pictures…I hope we don’t have to wait too much longer for a real snowfall!

The Top Five–Food Photos of 2020

Today’s “Top Five” continues in the home and focuses on food photography. If there’s anything I’ve done a lot this year, it’s cook. I already did a lot of cooking to begin with, but between not being able to go out to eat at all, and wanting to find something nice I could do for my family at home, I upped my cooking game (in my opinion, anyway). And while I was cooking a lot, I decided to work on my food plating and photography, too. I actually think I’ve improved a lot this year, so at least I learned something!

The first picture I chose is from the very beginning of the year, when I made Beef Wellington for Ryan’s 40th birthday on Epiphany:

We have had shawarma so many times this year. It’s always a pretty meal because it’s so colorful…this is my favorite picture of that dinner:

I’ve also done a lot of baking this year, including this lovely carrot cake:

I found a new recipe for potato-parsnip soup, and not only was it delicious, it looked beautiful!

And finally, a picture of the dessert I made to accompany our fancy Christmas dinner on Sunday. I love the colors and textures in this picture!

Food can be a tricky thing to photograph, so I’m going to keep working on improving my skills!

The Top Five–Around the House Photos of 2020

Continuing my series of “Top Five” lists to end the year, I’m moving on to photos taken around the house, a place we’ve all spent many more hours than usual in 2020!

To start off, a picture of my complete Ticket to Ride collection, as seen in February. I’ve actually added two more games since then (the newest board, plus the only other one from my collection that was missing), but I still love seeing how many different maps are/were in my collection!

This might not be the best picture ever, but it represents one of the few high points of the year for me…the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

I’m a huge fan of the Bésame Cosmetics “Love, Lucy” collection, and I really like how this picture of the lipstick I purchased turned out:

One day, I went upstairs for school and found this in my chair. It tickled me.

To the end the list as I began, a recent picture of an old Ticket to Ride game played with the clear trains from the edition I received for Christmas. The trains are so cool!

That’s just a small glimpse into our year as seen in photos taken around the house!