Easter Feed

Our Happy Easter Sunday!

Sunny easter flowers

Alleluia, my friends! Happy Easter! I hope you've all had a lovely start to this beautiful new season. :)

Today I'd like to share some of the pictures from our Easter weekend ... but first, I'd like to remind you all that today's the last day to enter my "Happy 10 Year Blogging" giveaway! I'll be drawing the winning names tomorrow morning! Here is the post with all the details ... :)

Now, onto the celebration pictures!

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The Alleluia has returned! This little plaque (which we made several years ago), gets hidden away on Ash Wednesday - just as the word disappears from our Lenten liturgy - and then makes its triumphant reappearance on Easter Sunday, announcing to us all:

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Easter flower shopping

This was a last minute run for Easter flowers from, where else but Trader Joe's - which has the best cut-flower prices! We entertain often and I always make a note to stop by TJ's for flowers. Today's "haul" included flowering branches, roses, tulips, carnations, and Gerbera daisies. (I also made a note in my gardening planner to grow more cutting flowers this year!)

(Another note: my friend (and longtime reader) Tanya had a great suggestion - that I do a post on family gatherings and entertaining! And I would LOVE to do that! It is certainly something we do often (host family gatherings and fairly large parties) and I really enjoy the whole process. So a post on that subject will be forthcoming!)

Back to this post, though ... a little Good Friday morning activity:

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Keeping the younger boys busy with a word puzzle egg hunt. It was meant to be an outdoor event, but since the day was quite rainy we hid the eggs all over the first floor of the house. This was an activity I set up for Earlybird to do with his therapist but Little Bear, naturally, insisted on taking part!

Easter baskets

On Easter eve, the boys' baskets were ready for the eggs ... no natural dyes this year, as much as I'd hoped to try them! Next year for sure ...

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And here we have dining tables set up in the sunroom - we welcomed 20 for dinner!

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A fun veggie basket I made up - Bill helped me with the cabbage dip dish!

Easter mantle

We stashed desserts in the living room before it was time to serve. I love how our grapevine cross blooms with life once Easter Sunday has dawned. :)

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Ok, funny story. So ... I made a lemon cake for my Bookworm (home from BC on Easter break) because he LOVES lemon cake. Only, I was running out of time ... so homemade became "Duncan Hines." And then, the frosting wouldn't cover the whole cake! So I decided to use Peeps ("borrowed" from the boys' baskets) to hide the skimpy frosting job!

And voila, c'est la Peep Cake! ;)

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Tulips - not my favorite flowers, but boy do they "shine" at Easter!

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A favorite Easter decoration, hung between the kitchen and dining room.

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And here we have some (lots of) family photos, starting with Little Bear who, as you can probably tell, was a little shy at first, as his home filled up with people much larger than him! (Note how he's clutching the hem of his shirt ...)

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He needed to spend a little time up on his mama before he was ready to mingle!

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And here we have most of my family, in my kitchen, on Easter Sunday. I can't get much happier than this. :)

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Earlybird did really well, even though large gatherings can be a challenge for his sensitivities. He was really looking forward to Easter Sunday! We allowed him to use the TV in our bedroom throughout the day so when he got a little overwhelmed (by noise, smells, expectations, whatever) he could retreat upstairs for a bit.

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The spiced orange rum punch, served in my grandmother's punch bowl, was a hit - though our initial plan was to serve a really neat rhubarb cocktail. Rhubarb is so seasonal for early spring! Unfortunately our frozen (garden-grown) rhubarb defrosted in a rather sludgey way PLUS I realized I was out of sugar late on Holy Saturday. Eep! So this became our "signature cocktail" for the day. Thank goodness for Pinterest! It was pretty yummy I must say. :)

And now for some family photos ... how I love these people!

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Mum and dad easter 2016

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Little Bear needed a few breaks, too ...

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Trains inside ...

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Trucks outside!

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Thumbs up for a good dinner, Mom!

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Enjoying Easter dinner with three of my four boys. <3

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Through the family room window ... I love how bright the day was, the sunroom is such a joy on days like this!

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Mum and Matt catching up ... my brother had to work on Easter but was able to join us for dinner!

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Little Bear, avidly watching the "volcano" egg my brother gave him for Easter. Have I mentioned how much LB loves volcanos? :)

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Bill working on his Spring Blessings egg ...

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In the tradition of sharing our thankfulness at Thanksgiving (on autumn leaf shapes) I made up manila paper eggs for a similar activity. After dinner we all wrote out what we love best about Spring and then I read them aloud as we savored coffee and dessert. My family is very kind about my crazy little ideas!

And here's the desserts table ...

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That pineapple-upside down cake in the foreground was baked by my Uncle Karl and it was SO delicious. And I can tell you it was equally delicious the next morning with a cup of coffee ...

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Coffee was served in my grandmother's Irish tea cups ...

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A close-up of the pretty paper plates I picked up at Home Goods ... a little bigger than a cocktail size plate so it can hold more than just one dessert!

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A sugar cookie Peep bunny!

Radishes in teapot

I couldn't decide how to use the beautiful radishes I picked up at Whole Foods so I plopped them in a teapot - and I think they looked pretty cute! (They were placed back in the fridge at the end of the day.)

Well my friends, I think that's all I have to share today ... I hope you enjoyed this peek into our Easter and I thank you for taking the time to read through this rather long post! How was your Easter? And how is your March leaving you today ... like a lion or a lamb? Very mild here today (near 70) but then cold weather swoops in - perhaps flurries, I hear? - for the start of what T.S. Eliot called, "the cruelest month." The weather has been quite crazy lately so I guess we'll have to wait and see ...

Enjoy the rest of your Thursday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


When Plans are Not Perfect (The Last Days of Lent ...)

Lenten cross project near done

I happened to notice our Lenten cross this morning and - not that I haven't been looking at it every day for over a month, but - today it caught me by surprise. Because, oh my - we're nearly there! There are only a few (nine in fact) purple post-its left to pull off! Easter Sunday is truly, right around the corner ...

And doesn't the cross look pretty, with its flowers, butterflies and golden letters slowly being revealed? I'm leaving the very center post-it for last as that will uncover the letter "E" and on Holy Saturday the whole happy message will be announced ... :)

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Now friends, I'd like to confess that the plans I made up to go along with each post-it were at times a bit ... erm ... ambitious. Some days were just more hectic than I anticipated, and not everything came to pass as I'd envisioned. But such is life, right? Plans can be great (awesome, in fact), but LIFE happens and we must remember that, ultimately, we're not in charge. And flexibilty is a virtue, I believe ... or if it isn't, it should be! ;)

All kidding aside, I do think it's vital to stay flexible and try not to get frustrated, when planning any and all areas of life. This is something I have to work at, constantly. I'm a planner, as you know. I make a lot of plans - I LOVE them - but I love my family even more. When things get off-track, it's important that I check my disappointment - to remember my intentions were good, to remember the end goal - and to adjust my thoughts (plans!) accordingly.

Lenten cross project nearly done

For example, I had something a bit more "hands on" sketched out for today but - with a very sick Little Bear who was up half the night - I knew my plan would have to be changed up a bit. A quiet read-aloud and a coloring page quickly printed off the internet would have to suffice. And tomorrow's "Irish Tea" may not happen as I originally thought either (my mum is also sick), so I'll simplify that day's plan, still keeping in mind the Feast and our family's intentions. Oh and Monday's sunrise prayer? The day after we hosted a large party AND lost an hour of sleep? Well, an early rising was simply NOT in the cards. (As you might imagine!) Instead, I thanked my loved ones for all their help and hard work and encouraged the children to do the same. (Who can you thank today for their help?) So the sunrise activity will be rescheduled on another day in the near future ... maybe even Easter Monday?

One good thing is I've kept that master outline to myself (tucked away on my clipboard) and I write each post-it out before bed ... so I've been able to tweak our plans daily. And if a day's proposed plan looks to be an ill-fit, I can simplify on the spot: Read a book from our liturgical bookshelf. Do something nice for somone else. Sit quietly for five minutes and think of what makes you grateful.

Admittedly, I put a lot of time and thought into those plans, and I tried to keep the activities simple and meaningful. But the point of our Lenten journey (and all of my "plans") was not to keep busy and pull off 40+ crafts and activities, but instead, to slow down and focus our energy on a purposeful Lent ... sharing mercy, developing generosity, accepting responsibility and increasing tolerance. Being mindful of how others live, recognizing their needs, and respecting our place in the world around us.

My hope - or end-goal, if you will - is that by lighting a spark of compassion, we're tending the fire of Christ in our hearts. And come Easter Sunday, we may shine all the brighter! Plan or no plan, that's what we're all aiming for, I believe.

Well, my friends, this post went on a bit longer than I planned, but I thank you, as always for reading. I'm grateful you spent a little of your day here at "my place!"

Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, and I will see you here again very soon!


Our Lenten Countdown: The (Printable) Daily Activities

Purple post its

Happy Monday, my friends! We have another snowstorm here - near blizzard conditions, I hear - but we're hunkering down and hoping the power holds! Wherever you are I hope you are keeping well - and warm. :)

So here at last is a follow-up to Friday's post, a closer look at the purple post-its themselves. As I described here, each note will offer a simple suggestion - a way of living Lent together as a family. I tried to come up with ideas that would be meaningful but still manageable - things that would resonate with my children but not overwhelm them. (Or me!)

The focus of Lent is threefold - to fast, to give alms and to pray - so I included opportunities for these actions throughout the season. Inspired by the words and actions of Pope Francis, I also tried to weave in ways for for us to work together on the concepts of forgiveness, awareness, (less) consumerism and waste, and care for creation.

Now, as I mentioned before, the activities are quite particular to my own family, so they may or may not be something that would appeal to you and yours … but in the spirit of sharing, here they are:

Post-Its with Purpose: Our Lenten Countdown

(Since it appears the links don't show up in the PDF, I am adding the countdown text at the bottom of this post. Sorry for any confusion!)

I am happy if something here is helpful to you, and you are welcome to print my notes out if you wish. It may look like "a lot" when you open it up, but remember - the italicized dark purple text is what I’m writing on the actual post-it for the children to read. It's just a brief sentence or two. The text in violet is for me ~ my own notes and reminders for that day. You know me - when I'm planning something, I get wordy. :)

Well, Ash Wednesday arrives in two days, and I'm glad to feel a little more prepared for Lent, knowing I have this plan to follow with the children. I aim to review my notes each Thursday and see what will be happening in the week ahead. If need be, I can even tweak the post-its as we go along. Some of the activities will be pushing things a bit with our special needs son - he's not a fan of giving things up or doing extra chores! - but it's important to me that he live Lent along with us, in his own way. I tried to come up with activities that would work around (or perhaps with) his challenges and inspire him to do his best ... for those he loves, for God and for himself!

Ok, that is all for now, my friends! I missed Downton last night because my husband was watching the Superbowl, and I decided to watch (listen) along with him. Lol. I do plan to catch up tonight and post a recap tomorrow ... provided our power holds! I also have a lovely Book Party post in queue and hope to have that up mid-week.

So for now, and as always, thanks so much for stopping by! I wish you all a pleasant Monday and will see you here again very soon ...

❤ Post-Its with Purpose: Our Lenten Countdown ❤

 

Throughout each week there will be opportunities to:

 

PRAY ~ for someone, about something, or perhaps learn a new prayer

GIVE ~ monies (by reducing our wastefulness/consumerism), extra help and attention for those who need it

FAST ~ from meat/certain foods, from negative behaviors

OBSERVE ~ Faith traditions at home

 

Below is my outline for the 40 days of Lent, and as I mentioned before, the activities are quite particular to my own family, so they may or may not be something that would appeal to you and your children … but in the spirit of sharing, here they are! I am happy if something here is helpful to you, and you are welcome to print this out if you wish. The italicized dark purple text is what I’m actually writing on the post-it for the children to read - just a sentence or two. The text in violet is for me ~ my own notes and reminders for that day.

 2/10 “No meat today! Let’s set up our Lenten altar.” On Ash Wednesday we’ll bury the “Alleluia” (golden letters) in a butterfly-shaped box. This will rest on our mantel throughout Lent. We’ll also burn last year’s palms (as we've done before) and sprinkle ashes over a pot of soil in which stands a plain white candle. Set pot on Lenten altar (library mantel).

2/11 “Today we’ll set up a donation box in the foyer.” Our Lady of Lourdes. All help set up our family donation box to be kept in the foyer throughout Lent. Decorate with words and symbols of love.

2/12 “No meat or dessert today! Let’s make treats for the hungry birds, and watch a family movie together.” As “Friends of Francis,” our mission is to care for creation. We’ll make suet treats - a valentine for the birds! Tonight is family movie night: The Song of Bernadette.

2/13 “Gather donations for parish pet drive. Make hearts for St. Valentine’s Branch.”  On heart shaped doilies, we’ll each write things we love about one another. No peeking! Mom will gather the hearts and tomorrow morning they’ll be hanging from a pretty branch on the breakfast table.

 

Sunday, 2/14: At our family meeting, we’ll talk about awareness and consumerism. Instead of just giving money to charity, what if we also worked on buying less and wasting less? How can we respect our resources? Let’s learn about how children live all over the world. Some have much less than we do! Measure this week’s grocery bill against the average - any saved money goes in the alms jar. 

 2/15 “Help Mom clean out refrigerator. How much food waste did we find?” Create a pile of food that has gone by and tally the waste dollars. Later in the day I’ll introduce the idea of a “peace corner” where we’ll spend time learning how children live all over the world. Read Let There Be Llamas!

2/16 “Help Dad set up a compost pail for the kitchen.” Brainstorm ways to waste less food. Set up our peace board in library corner - let the boys decorate with flag stickers and add first prayer cards (made from plain index cards). As we find people and situations to pray for, we’ll decorate a card to post on our board.

2/17 “Use Amazon gift cards to buy toys to donate.” Go online and buy items for the community toy drive at the first of the month. (Use some of their Amazon Christmas gift money to do this.) While online, we’ll watch the Pope’s video, Care for Creation. Look through Children Just Like Me. Ask: Where would you live if  you could live anywhere in the world? Why?

2/18 “Choose a toy or book to add to the donation box today.” Encourage the children to choose at least one item each. Look through A Life Like Mine. What do we need to live safely and happily everyday? Make a list for our peace corner. Pray that all children, everywhere, have those things.

2/19 “No meat today! Help Mom launder clothing to donate.” Work together to clean the clothes we’re donating - fold them and place in donation box. Read What We Wear: Dressing Up around the World.

2/20 “Help Mom food shop today.” Encourage the boys to skip the snacks and processed foods. Compare food costs. How do we save when we’re careful to buy only what we need? (Money, excess trash, extra sugars and fats we don’t need.) Read What the World Eats.

 

Sunday, February 21st: At our family meeting, we’ll talk about forgiveness and examining our conscience. What might you have done that you are sorry for? (Inner thoughts.) Give this some thought this week. Can you ask for forgiveness - from the person you sinned against, from God, from yourself? Can you forgive someone who has wronged you? What does that do for your heart to let go of that hurt? Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.

 

2/22 “No complaining today!” Chair of St. Peter. Stop yourself before complaining - if the urge arises, stop and write one thing you are grateful for on the white board. How many blessings came up today? (If time and interest, make a holy-spirit stained glass and/or learn about St. Peter's Basilica.)

2/23 “Forgive someone today.” This could be something that happens today or something that’s happened in the past -  tell them it’s ok and that you forgive them - and then let it go. Also, go to store with Mom to purchase diapers for community drive. Add to donations box.

2/24 “Ask for forgiveness today.” Think of something you wish you’d done better, or something you wish you hadn’t done. Apologize - to the person you wronged and/or to God and know you will do better. Forgive yourself for things you wish you could change. Promise to work on these things and feel good inside that you’re doing something positive!

2/25 “Do something for your brothers today.” Offer suggestions: neaten desks, make beds, fold laundry, clear dishes, clean lunch bag, play with the little one, let someone use your computer, make a welcome home sign for L. Read Brothers and offer thanks to God for each other.

15. 2/26 “No meat today! Pray the stations together.” We’ll gather in the library to look at the stations I’ve set up along the Lenten mantel. (Pinned to burlap garland.) First we’ll talk about what these pictures portray … ask how Jesus may have felt and what he might have needed? How would we have helped him if we could? What about now?

2/27 “Make pretzels with Mom. Family movie night!” Talk about why pretzels are a Lenten tradition as well as a wholesome, homemade snack. What other healthy snacks can we make instead of buy? Read Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born. Watch The Bells of St. Mary's tonight.

 

Sunday, February 28th: At our family meeting we’ll talk about our local community (neighborhood, parish, family). How can we help those that live around us? How can we contribute to our community? Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.

 

2/29 “Bring cookies to our elderly neighbors.” Include a note with our phone numbers in case they ever need us. Offer to help with spring yard work. At home, start our "pink roses" for Sunday.

3/1 “Take a clean up-walk through the neighborhood.” Walk the neighborhood and clean up trash that might have blown about. Bring trash bins back up driveways for neighbors. (Help mom make daffodil pins for St. David’s Day - or perhaps sit and color with Mom while she works.)

3/2 “Make a card for someone who needs cheering up.” Talk about who we know that might miss us or feel lonely sometimes. Make cards at home (say a prayer over each), then help Mom mail them. Be polite and cheerful with the folks at the village post office. How many smiles can we offer?

3/3 “Buy pajamas for library drive.” Go to store and buy pajamas for children whose families  can’t afford new clothing. What does homeless mean? Let’s add to our peace board today and give thanks for the comforts we enjoy in our own home.

3/4 “No meat today! Pray the stations together.” After praying the stations, read aloud from our parish bulletin and talk about the groups that need assistance. Where can we offer out time/talent/treasure? Tonight at supper read aloud from our local paper and do the same. Where is help needed? How can we pitch in?

3/5 “Think about this person and what they need.” Each person receives a name and is encouraged to think about what that person might need (physically, spiritually), then choose a way to help. Keep it to yourself, but do what you can as you can. Read One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Difference.

 

Sunday, March 6th: Today is Rose Sunday! We will have a special family brunch after Mass. Nana's delicious egg custard will be served. Today let’s talk about our prayer habits and how we can make room for prayer in our life. Ask the grandparents about their favorite prayers. Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.

 

3/7 “Learn a new prayer this week.” Each of us chooses a new prayer (have suggestions ready) to learn by heart this week, with the goal of sharing at next Sunday’s family dinner. Write them out on index cards.

3/8 “Pray for people who are sick and their caregivers.” St. John of God, patron of hospitals, nurses and the sick. Do we know anyone who is sick or recovering in some way? Do we know people who care for someone in need? These folks need special prayers!

3/9 “Write a letter to Jesus.” Set the table with paper, colored pens and stickers, and let’s write a letter to Jesus together. This can be about anything - giving thanks, saying hi, telling him a bit about ourselves. Attend Adoration in the evening (older boys and Mom).

3/10 “Fast from electronics tonight.” After supper, turn off all tech devices - and read, talk, sing - or just visit with each other. How are the prayers coming along?

3/11 “No meat today! Pray the stations together.” Look in our donations box - what can we add? Look at our local food pantry’s list online and add items to our Saturday shopping list.

3/12 “Do something nice for someone today in secret.” Shhhh! Encourage the children to engage in a conspiracy of kindness today. Offer quiet suggestions.

 

Sunday, March 13th: Daylight Savings Begins! Isn’t light wonderful? How is Christ a Light in our lives? Let’s talk about Easter Sunday - how can each of us pitch in and prepare? (If possible, have children present their memorized prayers.) Mention early rising time tomorrow - 6:30 a.m. Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.

 

3/14 “Let’s have a sunrise prayer this morning.” Sun rises at 6:56 a.m. so we’ll gather shortly before in the family room - which will be fairly dark. As sunrise approaches, I’ll open a window so we can listen. We’ll watch the sun rise behind the trees and the light grow … I’ll read a little prayer thanking God for our new day. (If it’s mild enough, we may even walk outside.)

3/15 “Today we’ll drink only water.” I’ll keep a pitcher in the fridge and we’ll focus on the blessing of fresh, clean water at our disposal Read One Well: The Story of Water on Earth.

3/16 “Today we’ll prepare for St. Patrick’s Day.” The boys will work on a shamrock craft (how does it represent the Holy trinity?) and help Mom make scones for tomorrow.

3/17 “Let’s learn about our family today.” St. Patrick, patron of Ireland. Today we’ll have an Irish tea for Nana (scones, tea) and talk about our family history. Where in Ireland did our ancestors live? (Have a map ready.) Read Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland. Irish supper tonight!

3/18 “Let’s surprise Dad with a big thank-you!” Fathers work so hard for their families! Make a big sign thanking Dad for working so hard for us. Surprise him with a text picture of the boys holding up the sign. (Also no meat, stations in the afternoon.)

3/19 “Help Dad with tasks around the yard today.” St. Joseph, patron of workers and fathers. We’ll have a simple St. Joseph’s supper tonight. Read Song of the Swallows.

 

Sunday, March 20th: It’s Palm Sunday ~ Holy Week begins! Also, it is the first day of Spring! Today we’ll bless our garden patch with a little of our Lenten soil (prepared on Ash Wednesday). The rest of the soil will be planted with grass seed. If the day is nice we’ll have a little procession around the property. Look for pussy willows by the creek. (English “palms.”) Read The Colt and the King. Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.

 

3/21 “Today we spring clean: tables and chairs!” The first three days of Holy Week are spent preparing the house for Easter. We will use a natural cleaner to wash the dining and kitchen tables as well as all the chairs. If it’s a nice day, the windows will be open to allow in fresh air. Mama will launder the linens for Easter dinner. Read The Donkey's Easter Tale.

3/22 “Today we spring clean: windows and doorways!” Spring cleaning continues … note how brightly the sun shines through the clean windows. How much easier it is to let in that light when our windows are clean! (symbolism) Decorate doorways for spring. Read Petook: An Easter Story.

3/23 “Today we spring clean: floors and rugs!” Help mop and vacuum. It is also Spy Wednesday so we will have “silver dollar” pancakes for dinner. Read The Tale of the Three Trees.

3/24 “Create paschal candle today.” Decorate the plain pillar standing in soil pot on mantel. Eat dinner by candlelight tonight, using our baptismal candles. At the end of the meal, say a prayer together, and blow out candles. Sit in darkness for a few moments.

3/25 “No meat today! Pray the stations together.” It’s Good Friday, so this will be a quiet day, close to home. Hot cross buns for breakfast, and let’s walk the stations outdoors. (I will have this set up beforehand.) Read The Jesus Garden: An Easter Legend.

3/26 “Today we’ll take a Praise Walk.” It’s Holy Saturday, the last day of Lent! Today we’ll color eggs and bake for tomorrow’s feast! But we’ll take time to walk through the spring woods and look for signs of life, marveling at the wold God has made for us. Tonight we’ll light our Paschal candle from the Easter Vigil fire.

 

ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!


Easter Weekend Photos ...

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! And to my friends who celebrate - Alleluia! Wishing you all of Easter's bright blessings! I am so happy this new season is here ...

We had a very nice Sunday, starting with - well, baskets, natch - then, early Mass (oh, that light coming in through the stained glass windows ...), followed by an afternoon gathering of family here at our house. We usually have quite a crowd, but for various reasons, our group was a bit smaller this year. We missed those who couldn't be with us, while relishing the time spent with those who could. It was such a lovely day and I have some photos I'd like to share with you all ... :)

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The boys' baskets all ready for the Bunny, as light waned on Easter eve ...

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My pretty birthday cloche filled with Easter grass and chocolates ...

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Festive flora! I always light this garland on Easter eve as the boys head off to bed ...

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Pretty flowers awaiting vases ...

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Eggs awaiting color!

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 I had truly meant to try natural egg dyes this year - bought the cabbage, beets, and onion skins and all - but time got pressing and thankfully, I had a PAAS package on hand!

Good ole PAAS, lol.

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My Earlybird (13) was a big help with the centerpieces (I cut, he "arranged") ...

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And the baking, of course! This was the beginnings of an orange pound cake made with fresh orange zest!

Here are the tables set up for eleven ...

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And a close up of the main table centerpiece ... I mixed blue and white dishes, old family favorites. :)

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This brass crucifix was made by my great-great grandfather. I typically have it in a place of honor, but I've never thought to use it on my Easter table!

These jellybean-filled glass globes were also part of the table setting ...

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(Tiny tealights blessed at Candlemas!)

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I love this cross-section of basket goodies - very telling of my boys' ages .. from candy and Tolkien to finger puppets and Scarry!

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Little Bear had an early nap so was a bit disgruntled to wake to a house full of people.

(That is my new Easter blouse - funny how it is when you order something online and it is NOTHING like it looked in the catalog, lol ... but still. I loved the colors and it was quite comfortable.)

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Here's my veggie basket - a la Pioneer Woman - basket on loan from Mum. :) The dip was meant to be served in a hollowed-out red cabbage but alas, my "fiddling" time ran out.

And here's the dessert & punch table ... I love to serve desserts in our living room.

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Non-alcoholic strawberry-lemonade punch, rhubarb pie, orange pound cake (served with whipped cream, not shown), chocolate cupcakes and fresh fruit salad. Plenty of assorted candies, too!

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I simply cannot have a party without punch!

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I used Gram's Irish china for coffee ... and placed some jaunty daffodils in a pretty white pitcher. My paternal grandmother made the white cabbage vase in a ceramics class. :)

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I love these sweet little cupcakes made by my mother ... EB can have them (he pulls the carrot candy off first) and they are SO delicious!

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Every holiday has its signature cocktail, of course! This year I wanted to use our pretty cosmo glasses and I loved the "spring-sky" shade of these "Tiffany Blue Cosmopolitans."

I set this table up in the sunroom as a place for drinks and appetizers. This was early on before it filled up ... there was artichoke dip and the aforementioned veggie basket, as well as hummus and pita, sweet grapes and goat cheese and assorted crispy, crunchy things.

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(Yes, we still have snow ... but it was a nice day, all in all. No rain (or snow!) to speak of and mostly sunny skies. Almost, but not quite, 50 degrees.)

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Main dishes were served from the kitchen ... we had baked ham and beef pie, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, baked beans, parmesan peas, soft rolls and deviled eggs. Homey fare, typical of New England holidays. :)

And here is (some of) my dear family, gathered 'round in our dining room. (Earlybird was camera shy!)

Easter 2015 9

 My cousin Kate (LB's godmother), Auntie Marcia, Dad and Mum ...

Easter 2015 5

Bookworm (19) and Crackerjack (15) ...

Easter 2015 8

 Little Bear on my lap (22 mos.) with Manuel and Kara (my cousin and EB's godmother) ...

And finally, the man behind the camera for most of the day - finally getting to sit down and have his cupcake! 

Easter 2015 39

What a blessing it is to spend a day like this with those we love ...

My friends, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing in our joy! I hope you all had wonderful Easter ... and I'd love to hear about your day if you'd care to leave a comment! I love hearing how families across the country (and world!) celebrate treasured days like this. For now though, I wish you all a very pleasant evening and a happy day tomorrow, too ...

I will see you here again very soon!


It's a Week of Changes ...

A change of the calendar ...

April calendar SB

Rabbit, rabbit! :)

A change underfoot ...

Crocus shoots 

Signs of life, at last!

And a change in season, come Sunday!

Easter card 1

 

My friends, I know I haven't been blogging as often as I used to, but I wanted to let you know I am going to take the next several days off for the end of Holy Week and the Easter holiday. I will be back next week for certain ... in the meantime, I am wishing you all a most beautiful and blessed Easter! I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family and friends!

See you here again very soon ...


Earlybird's Lenten Chain

Lenten chain 1

Good Monday morning, my friends!

We have bright sunshine here and bitterly cold temps - but no snow at the moment! At least not in the air ... on the ground is a whole other story! But it's a good day - we have power (which means important things like heat and coffee can happen) and we're safe and cozy at home. These are blessings I try to remind myself not to take for granted ...

I did want to let you know that I'm having some "tech" issues at the moment, so my posting might be a bit "off" this week - but I wanted to share this quick project with you all ahead of this (Ash) Wednesday.

Earlybird, as I've mentioned, gets a bit obsessed with upcoming events, especially holidays. So I'm always looking for ways to help him understand how time passes and perhaps slow him down a bit and build up his patience. And these are good goals for Lent, I think! Well, this is what I set up for him this weekend:

Lenten chain 2

 We began the chain on Saturday, February 14th (Valentine's Day) and it stretches all the way to Sunday, April 5th (Easter). These are just strips of construction paper, and there are:

4 green strips (Ordinary Time)

42 purple strips (Lent)

1 pink strip (Rose Sunday)

3 red strips (Paschal Triduum)

1 white strip (Easter)

**

Very simply, I wrote a brief note on the inside of each strip. What is this day? What might I give of myself for someone else? (So, examples would be: "Clean up Little Bear's blocks. Bring Crackerjack's laundry downstairs. Help CJ with trash. Help Mama make supper. Etc.) Helping with chores is not something EB typically likes to do so it will be a sacrifice for him to make these offerings.

(ETA - I pinned the chores around my weekly routine - so on Mondays the strip suggests laundry help or bedroom pickup, while Wednesdays are for kitchen tasks, etc. Just might make it easier for working with him on this.)

Before hanging the chain, I jotted down each strip's note in my Lenten Planner so I would be aware of what EB would be reading that day (and could prepare for things I suggested). Then I taped the loops together and hung them up in the kitchen, along the learning wall as seen above. I anchored the chain to the maps with small, wooden clothespins.

So now Earlybird has a visual reminder of how close we are getting to Easter - and a simple Lenten path that will help him participate to the best of his ability in this most holy season. It pleases me so much to bring our Faith into his world in ways that register with him, and bring him joy. :)

Well my friends, I hope this day finds you safe and comfortable, wherever you are and whatever your weather. I have a really fun post to share next time! I've been busily nailing down those housekeeping routines - plugging tasks into a schedule - and I will be sharing it with you all very soon. It's a rather large project and I'm still trying to iron it all out, but I think it might be the most comprehensive list of housekeeping I've ever written! So stay tuned!

And see you here again very soon ...


Easter, 2014 ~ Light, Love, Joy!

 Well, good Wednesday morning, my friends ... long time no see!

So I took my little Easter "break," and then right when I was ready to jump back in and start blogging again - Typepad crashed! And boy did it crash hard. Hoping they have it all worked out now ... so fingers crossed, everyone!

But enough with techy first-world problems, I hope you all had a nice weekend and a lovely Easter Sunday. Ours was wonderful - so good to spend time with family and friends - and as usual, I took a ridiculous amount of pictures so I'd like to share them here if I may. 

:)

Easter sunday 25

"Hot cross buns" for Good Friday. One of these years I'll make them from scratch ...

Easter sunday 14

Baskets at the ready ...

Easter sunday 15 

Hard-boiled eggs cooling ...

Easter sunday 23 

Jelly beans soaking in vodka ... (more on that later).

Easter sunday 20

Just like magic, every year! 

Easter sunday 21

The baskets were hung by the chimney with care ...

Easter sunday 26

 Next morning, Earlybird was the first to the spoils (natch) ...

Easter sunday 27

 A few of my fellas ...

Easter sunday 31

Note the cats behind Little Bear ~ they were after that pink crinkly stuff! 

Easter sunday 32

 "Yay! My biggest brothers are awake!" 

Easter sunday 36

Easter egg hunt #1 ... a bit chilly that morning.

Easter sunday 37

:)

Easter sunday 105

 Palm crosses in pansy pots ...

Easter sunday 17

My grandmother's first set of china, so lovely on a pink cloth ...

Easter sunday 43

Our forsythia wreath hung indoors - one of my favorite spring decorations.

Easter sunday 19

It's just not a party without punch ... :)

Easter sunday 64

 Love these orange-hued flowers ...

Easter sunday 47

 Preparing our "signature" cocktail for Easter, 2014 ~ the Jelly Bean Martini!

  Easter sunday 56

Pretty pink tulips ... photo by Crackerjack. :)

Easter sunday 61

Pansies on the patio (also by CJ) ...

Easter sunday 59

The colored sugar rims really made these drinks pop!

Easter sunday 66

(We ran out of lemons, so we used clementine wedges as well.)

Easter sunday 18 

Signs of life all over the yard ...

Easter sunday 70

 Dinner is served! Ham *and* turkey for our group of 25!

Easter sunday 78 

What's Easter without a baby in smocking? :)

Easter sunday 79 

My Uncle Karl's Pineapple Upside Down Cake. As good as it looks, and them some.

Easter sunday 80

 My mum's "peep" cake for her grandboys!

Easter sunday 81

My Peter Rabbit cupcakes. :)

Easter sunday 83

 Egg Hunt #2 ... this time with cousins!

Easter sunday 84 

Little Bear gets a smooch from his Daddy ... :)

Easter sunday 92

Peace be with you ...

Easter sunday 88

"You go this way, I'll go that way!"

Easter sunday 6

Little Finnegan found one!

Easter sunday 89

The bigger boys (my brother included) had fun with bats, balls and frisbees.

Easter sunday 90

 It was such a nice day - sunny and almost warm (about 55). Perfect for sitting outside!

Easter sunday 52

Me and my Little Bear ... 

Easter sunday 98

 Sunlight on pretty china, crystal and flowers ...

Easter sunday 99

 One last egg remained hidden ...

Easter sunday 95

Happy Easter from my family to yours! Thank you for sharing in our joy!

**


Kitchen Chat, Week Seven: Easter!

Bs&c graphic 2

Good Monday morning, my friends!

Now, with this being Holy Week, I would love to talk about Easter this week ... so my questions today will center on this simple question: How do you celebrate Easter in your home?

I'm a bit under the weather this morning, so let me get right to those questions!

*☕️*

Where do you celebrate the holiday? Do you host a dinner (or brunch)?

What special activities do you look forward to most?

What foods mean Easter to you? Are they connected with fond memories from childhood?

And how about we wander into the next room for a moment, what is your Easter table like? Are there any special dishes or linens you like to use? 

*☕️*

I could say a LOT about Easter entertaining but if I may, could I direct you to my Easter archive for a rather thorough look at my family's Easter celebrations. (Party recap posts are scattered throughout the archive.) We host the holiday dinner here at our house every year ... and this will be our first Easter in our new home! I am very excited about this! And this year we are expecting 20 guests for dinner, so we will be spread out, with tables set in the dining room (10) and the sunroom (6, 4 and 4).

(That will seat 24 in all + a high chair!)

At Eastertime, I always look forward to ...

The sleepy smiles on my boys' faces as they find their goody baskets.

A chilly morning egg hunt. Colorful orbs nestled in dull grass.

Our church overflowing with fragrant lillies.

Bright light streaming through stained glass.

White chocolate. :)

Wine glasses sparkling in the sunlight.

Our Lenten cross suddenly filled with fresh flowers on Easter morning.

A long, leisurely day with my family.

*

We almost always have a baked ham on Easter but I remember my grandmother serving lamb on some years ... with mint jelly ... not my favorite, lol, but a holiday tradition. She also made lots of desserts, but I fondly remember homemade tapioca pudding with freshly whipped cream. She always made this at my "humble" request. :) 

Our tables are always set with pretty pastel linens and my cream-colored china, as well as quite often, my mother's blue-and-white china, too. Flowers include lots of sunny daffodils and bright tulips and there are small tealights scattered about. I will have pictures of this year's tables next week I'm sure!

*

Well my friends, I can't wait to hear about your own Easter highlights and memories! And please know, if you don't celebrate Easter, I'd be thrilled to hear about any other Spring celebrations you enjoy with your family. This is a wonderful season for bringing light and life into our homes ... pussy willows on the windowsill, pebbles and twigs set upon the nature shelf, spring sounds and smells are so lovely at this time of year.

I particularly enjoy my open kitchen window, looking out over my sink as I work on the evening dishes ... listening to the peepers in the woods, seeing all the daffodils popping up through the yard, smelling that fresh air with perhaps a hint of dirt and woodsmoke. After a winter of closed windows and doors, it feels so good to open our homes up again!

So I look forward to hearing from you! But for now I'll say goodbye, and wish you all a bright and blessed day!

See you here again very soon ...


Tuesday Tidbits

Well my friends, this day did not go even remotely as planned ... but still, there were lots of nice moments ... bright little blessings in amongst all the "dailiness." :)

So naturally, I have a few pictures to share ... :)

Morning glory seeds 2

Here we have some morning glory seeds soaking in water ... they were supposed to be for planting today (a tradition on the Feast of the Annunciation) but A. I forgot to soak them last night and B. I realized I have no potting soil. So the planting part will wait a day or two ... or three.

Last bit of snow on deck

Our deck was caked with snow for the entire winter and at one point, it reached and exceeded the window frames! I am so happy to see there's just that one little strip of stubborn crusty snow left ... we've been eyeing it for days now ... and with temps in the 50s over the next several days, it's a goner!

Easter folder 2

Shown above, is my Easter planning folder ... I finally got it together! I've been stashing clippings and lists in my weekly file folder up till now, moving them along week to week ... but it was time to get serious! Pretty paper, isn't it? :)

Carrot soup in tea cups

Here's one of the recipes I have stashed in that folder ... I think this carrot soup sounds delicous and looks so lovely served in tea cups!

Kitchen garden and herb books

Two beautiful books from the library that alas, had to go back today. They are both illustrated by Tasha Tudor and I enjoyed them very much. They got my "spring gardening wheels" turning!

Robin in bush

A jaunty robin who somewhat hidden in the bushes as we headed out today ... he let me get close enough to get a few shots, but flew off chirping once I stepped just one step too far. I think he's claiming our yard as his own ... looking for his missus. ;)

O in car seat with toys

I just loved this little visual ... a little boy and his little toys!

:)

Well my friends, I hope the day's been kind to you ... I'm going to sign off now and do my best Little Bear-willing) to get as good a night's sleep as I can. I wish you all the same.  

Oh, but before I go!

I just checked in with the Kitchen Chat post and there are some wonderful comments in there! Lots of great ideas, thoughtful suggestions and delicious recipes ... I hope you'll take a look if you have time! And remember - if you'd like to send me photo(s) of your kitchen (or a spot in your kitchen) for next week's chat, you can do so at this address:

bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net

I hope to hear from you!

And I also hope you all have a nice evening ... see you here again sometime soon.


An Easter Countdown for Earlybird

Countdown 14 

One of the things to know about Earlybird is, he looooves parties. Getting the house ready, preparing the food, welcoming family and friends - he loves it all. Happily for him, we host a lot of parties! And when we finish with one, the next day he's asking, "What comes next?" So of course, right after Christmas he was all ...

"When is Easter?"

So I've been planning a countdown of some sort for him in my head, but I couldn't nail down a firm idea ... I'd come up with something, but then it would seem too complicated. EB needs something simple and fun, easy to keep up with every day. (I do too!)

Recently I was at Staples and I found these border paper rolls on sale for $2 apiece. Some were plain white and some had this pretty blue sky pattern. I bought some of each as well as a couple of packages of big smiley face stickers (also on sale, but the price escapes me just now). I had some index cards on hand and colored markers, of course, and so a plan started to form ...

This is EB and me working on the chart before heading into the hospital yesterday. (Yes, I left this to the very last minute, but that's just how I roll lately.)

Countdown 12

 The wrap on his head was covering the electrodes and wires - the backpack he's wearing held the transmitter into which the wires fed. It still amazes me he wore all of this - and that he slept with it! 

Later in the evening, once we were home, I got back to work on my project, with a few new helpers this time ...

Countdown 4

Countdown 15

I enjoy all my distractions, I really do. :)

With a black marker, I drew a curved line up the middle of the paper and with a purple marker, I wrote numbers alongside it, 40-1. At the bottom of the chart is the 40th day to Easter (Ash Wednesday) and so on upwards to Holy Saturday. Then Bill questioned me on the Sundays - where are the Sundays? Well, of course, we don't count Sundays as part of Lent, but Earlybird is a bit of a stickler when it comes to things like patterns and routine, and skipping a day won't sit right with him ...

So I made the six Sundays a separate part of the poster - in the form of pretty lavender index card crosses (one is pink for Rose Sunday) that sit off on the side. (I made these from index cards.) On Sundays I will write something special on each cross ~ a few joyful words of encouragement.

Here's how the poster looks hanging on the side of the liturgical bookcase ...

Countdown 9

And here's a closer look at the paper and smiley face stickers ...

Countdown 11

You can see where we started at the very bottom with EB's 1st smiley face sticker.

Countdown 13

 There are some notes about the days to come as we move up - feast days and natural events. More might pop up as the season unfolds ...

Countdown 10

 So at the end of each day EB will place a sticker over the day's number and so on throughout Lent, moving ever closer to Easter Sunday, and the top of the chart.

(And on Easter morning the top of the chart will sprout a giant rainbow and beautiful flowers!)
*** 

Now, Lent is about sacrifice, but for Earlybird, we're encouraging little acts of kindness/extra effort each day ... giving a little more of ourselves can be its own kind of sacrifice, after all. And really, all he went through this week with the EEG and hospital visits was a true trial ... I told him last night as he applied his sticker that he was very brave and did things he really didn't want to do. Today he has to let me wash his hair (to get more glue out) and I know he really doesn't want me to do that. But I will remind him that sometimes we have to give up a little of our comfort for a greater good. (It's a big and perhaps confusing concept for my little guy but it won't hurt to say it.) Tomorrow I'll suggest a kindness we can do for someone else and have Earlybird help me complete it.

Each day we'll do a little something and over time, fill our chart with smiles, and bring ourselves steadily closer to Easter.

:)

So that's the plan I finally decided upon, and I'm happy with how the project came out ... more importantly, Earlybird seems happy with it! I hope it helps him pass the time until our next family celebration ... and perhaps stretch himself a little as he gives a bit "extra" every day.

Thanks so much for stopping by, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

**


Tons of Easter Pictures & a 32-Week Bump Shot!

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you all had a lovely holiday ... our weekend was wonderful, and the weather was perfect. Just like early spring in New England should be ... sunny and 50 degrees. I have about a bajillion pictures to share with you, so I'd best get on with it!

:)

Easter crocus

Bookworm took the picture of the crocus above. A beautiful sign of life on this most blessed day.

Easter 1

On the Easter Vigil, a plate of hard-boiled eggs ready to color ...

Easter 3

Bill helping Earlybird with egg-dipping. I had really hoped to do "natural" egg dyes this year (all the rage right now, but more importantly, a great idea for chemical-sensitive kids like EB) but I just couldn't pull it together. A project for next year perhaps? I'm sure things will quiet down once we have an infant in the house. ;)

Easter 2

Easter eggs always remind me a bit of Christmas lights ... two bright ends of the same circle. :)

Easter 5

Eggs drying ...

Easter 4

And baskets ready to fill ...

A few hours later, veeerrry early Easter morning ...

Easter 6

(Some of us were more awake than others.)

Easter 7

The boys and their baskets ~ time to start the day!

Easter 9

Four baskets this year, including one for Baby-O on the far right.

Easter 31

We've had this silk forsythia wreath for a few years now, and to me it has become such a symbol of spring. I love hanging it where it can catch the sun.

Easter 30

Cut flowers soaking up the morning sun, waiting to be arranged into vases.

Easter 8

My mum made 20 of these beautiful felt napkin rings ... in addition to the colors above, she also made white, lavender and deep purple flowers.

Easter 11

A sunny bay window filled with Easter treats for our guests ...

Easter 14

Earlybird receiving a special Easter gift from his Nana and Papa ...

Easter 13

A gorgeous wooden tree house handmade in Vermont!

Easter 15

The dessert station filling up ...

(Penny, these next two photos are especially for you. :))

Easter 16

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake made by my Uncle Karl.

Easter 17

A sweetly sprinkled and frosted chocolate cake made by my Mum.

Easter 18

Mixed candies ...

Easter 34

I love using old family dishes for parties like this ...

The above "asparagus" dish belonged to my grandmother - perfect for Easter or any spring gathering.

Easter 32

The dining room table set for eight with blue dishes (some mine, some mum's).

Easter 33

And the family room tables set for 12 with old family linens and our wedding china.

Easter 22

Just before dinner ~ it was time to look for those eggs! 

Easter 23

This is Connor, one of our cousins from New York. He worked so hard helping EB find all those eggs!

Easter 24

My dad and my brother, Matt.

Easter 25

My lovely Aunt Marcia with my one of my cousin's dogs ~ this is either Sophie or Lily, I'm not sure. 

Easter 35

A bit of a fuzzy shot, but this is my cousin Kara and her boyfriend, Manuel.

Connor's little brother, Finn ~ just two years old and the sweetest little boy.

Easter 27

Bookworm and my cousin Kate who kindly agreed to be Baby-O's godparents!

And speaking of Baby-O ...

Easter 28

32 Weeks today! (I felt like a giant Easter egg, lol.)

***

Whew, that was a whole lot of pictures! If you're still with me, I thank you for your patience, and for sharing in our day ... one of the things I love most about blogging is having this convenient place to store family pictures and memories. It's fun to look back at how we did things, who was with us, and how things have changed (or not) through the years.

:)

Have yourselves a good night, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!


Our Easter Menu this Year

Good (Holy) Thursday, my friends!

Easter lily

Well, we're getting ready for the big day here - just a few days to go! And I'm trying to balance all the "outer bustle and busy-ness" with an "inner awareness and peace." Balance is always a tricky thing, but never more so at the holidays.

All this "bustle" of course is in preparation for our big family dinner ~ we're hosting it here at our house and expecting 20 people this year! I'm very much looking forward to seeing everyone and enjoying the holiday together. :)

Here is the menu I've organized with my mum:

Appetizers & Cocktails

sparkling peach sippers

soda/beer/wine

a simple punch for the kids

hot artichoke dip

shrimp dip

salsa & tortilla chips

fresh veggies & spinach dip

*

Dinner

baked ham and smoked turkey

hot fruit compote

roasted potatoes with onions

squash

corn

roasted asparagus

Annie's mac and cheese (per Earlybird's request)

assorted condiments

soft rolls and biscuits

*

Desserts

pineapple upside down cake

lemon cake

gingerbread

chocolate coconut "nest" cupcakes

salted caramel Easter popcorn

assorted candies

coffee

*

Weather permitting, there'll be an egg hunt for the kids, and maybe a little walk down the bike trail. The weather for Sunday is still looking good: highs around 50, sun giving way to clouds with perhaps a late day shower. I can live with that, especially now that he snow has all melted!

So early this Holy Thursday we're washing china and wine glasses, cleaning out the fridge, organizing table linens and neatening the boys' rooms. Meanwhile, Crackerjack is fighting a virus and Bookworm has a couple of classes to get to ... and this evening I have my echocardiogram. I'll keep you all posted on how that goes.

So, there's lots going on ... but I do have my quiet moments planned.

:)

Have a great Thursday, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!

**


Menu Monday ~ Holy Week

Easter egg pink sunrise

Wasn't this morning's sunrise just lovely? It was in our neck of the woods, anyway. We call this "Easter Egg Pink."

:)

Our Holy Week Dinner Menus

Monday, March 25th (Holy Monday)

bbq beef biscuit cups, corn, tater tots

*leftovers instead - using up food from the weekend*

Tuesday, March 26th (Holy Tuesday)

homemade calzones, salads

Wednesday, March 27th (Spy Wednesday)

silver dollar pancakes, roasted kielbasa/potatoes/vegetables

Thursday, March 28th (Holy or "Green" Thursday)

spinach salad, roast beef & radish subs, lime sorbet

Friday, March 29th (Good Friday)

*hot cross buns in the morning*

baked potatoes, soup

Saturday, March 30th (Holy Saturday)

leftovers/takeout

Sunday, March 31st (Easter Sunday)

Easter Dinner!

(separate post tomorrow)

*

(You may have noticed I'm not listing desserts this week - aside from Holy Thursday - because we're keeping things simple in preparation for Easter feasting.)

So this is the last "Menu Monday" for a while, my friends ... next week I'll put up a "Masterpiece Monday" so we can chat about the first episode of the new season of Call the Midwife!

Have a great day, everyone ... thanks so much for stopping by!

**


Feline Friday by Crackerjack (& a Few Easter Recipes)

"Archie, Center of the Universe"

Archie center of the universe 1

Archie center of the universe 2

:)

While I'm here (resting in my reading corner, working in my Easter folder) I thought I'd share a couple of neat recipes I found online today:

Italian Easter Bread

Salted Caramel Easter Popcorn

DIY Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

Special holiday meals are full of flavor, memories and love -  but as much as we enjoy our familiar favorites, it's always fun to try something new. You never know what might become a new family tradition! Are you trying any new recipes this Easter?

Enjoy your weekend, my friends!

**


Easter Sunday, 2012 ~ A Recap

 Hello, everyone ... and a Happy Easter to you!

I hope you all had a nice weekend, and a lovely holiday, as well. I thought you all might like to see some pictures from our Sunday?

(Now first ... please let me "warn" you ... this is an awfully long post. I know it might be a little "tmi" for some folks, but please keep in mind, I use this blog as a big family scrapbook and many years from now I'll be glad I captured every last detail!)

So ... away we go!

Well, Earlybird was up SUPER early (as usual) so we let him look through his basket provided he leave his brothers alone. Bill and I enjoyed our (strong) coffee while EB dove into his goodies ...

Easter 2012 34

The Easter Bunny always brings EB a few candies he can have - natural/organic jelly beans and "safe" chocolate bunnies - but mostly special books and toys. Like a ruler of his own, a turtle bath sponge, a Lego to build, and brand spankin' new crayons. Thankfully, he never seems to miss all those extra candies his brothers get in their baskets. :)

Finally, around 6:30 we allowed EB to wake up his brothers ... and I just had to share this picture - fuzzy and dark thought it is - because it cracks me up! Two tousled bedheads, squinty eyes, folded arms ... a general air about them of, "Huh?"

Easter 2012 32

EB, ever the master of ceremonies, was quite happy to welcome the boys to their baskets ...

Easter 2012 2

The older boys also get candies from the Easter Bunny (of a more traditional sort) as well as a couple of magazines, a new sketchbook and maybe a Wii game.

Archie just sat back and observed ...

Easter 2012 33

... most likely making mental notes for later.

And so the day began ...

Now, my mum and I started planning this dinner (this day) many weeks ago. And regular readers of my blog know this because I've talked about it quite a bit! We were expecting a party of 23 people in all, so that takes a lot of organization - particularly when it comes to food preparation and seating arrangements.

We'd be nowhere without our various lists ...

Easter 2012 31

As much as I love the holidays - Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas - I almost love the "lead up" even more. Because I love the anticipation and I have such fun working with my mum putting this all together. I especially love how, as Mum and I work, I glean all these great tips and hints. Like how to care for Gram's silver, and what pans work best for what foods ... bits of information I know my mum gleaned from my gram. And I feel this is a way we keep her with us as we go along. ❤

So, in getting creative with seating, we transformed the learning room into a table for four:

Easter 2012 40

Setting up a small table as a sideboard:

Easter 2012 37

The dining room table can be expanded to eight, but we squeezed 10 chairs around it:

Easter 2012 38

We set this table with some of my mum's "Blue Danube" china and two of my "English Countryside" plates. We also combined silverware sets ... but all the linen napkins once belonged to my grandmother.

And, finally, we had a table for six set up in the family room:

Easter 2012 39

So where did that leave the other two guests? Why, that would be Bookworm and Crackerjack - who kindly agreed to sit up at the kitchen island all on their own.

Now, for a few lots more pictures from the dinner party itself ...

Easter 2012 4

I know this punch looks like nothing special - indeed, the lighting is terrible in my "cocktail bar" (aka the china cupboard on any other day). But I promise you, it was delicious! It was quite a hit, and though the picture does not show it, the shade was the prettiest peachy-pink. It looked just like an Easter morning sunrise. :)

The punch recipe (which I found online) consisted of strawberries, pink lemonade, cold black tea and ginger ale ... and they tell me it was fantastic with a splash of coconut rum. ;)

(Added to my party notes for future gatherings ... a punch ladle!)

Here are two of my smiley guys ... Crackerjack and my brother, Matt.

Easter 2012 5

And my lovely cousins, Kate and Kara with their handsome gentleman friends, Paul and Manuel.

Easter 2012 6

(How time has flown ... I used to babysit these girls!)

It's hard to tell from this picture, but the two couples are playing table-top soccer. We moved the foozball table up from the playroom and onto the deck for the day. Here's a great big party/small house trick ... lure the guests outside, lol!

Here's my CJ setting up "lawn bowling" for the younger kids ...

Easter 2012 7

We even had two little doggies attend our Easter party!

Easter 2012 8

These pretty pups are "Lily" and "Sophie," who belong to my cousin Colin and his wife, Tina, who were on from New York. Though Archie and Oliver were "sequestered" for the day (in the older boys' bedroom), the dogs were kept outside in our fenced-in backyard. The house was already chaotic enough!

So, I have to show you this neat little thing ...

Easter 2012 9

I saw this idea in a magazine ... you (meaning, Bill, who did this for me) simply cut a small purple cabbage in such a way it will hold a thick dip (in this case, spinach) and then arrange your fresh veggies all around it. Isn't it so springy?

Here's part of our Easter party ...

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(From left to right): Kate and Paul, Uncle Karl, Grandma Barbara (Bill's mom), Bookworm, Kara, Auntie Marcia and Manuel.

And here's a few more ...

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(L to R): My sweet sister-in-law Ami and her boyfriend, Eric, Bill's dad (aka Grandpa Bill) and finally, my Bill. :)

So we served cocktails and appetizers at 1:30 ... and in addition to the veggies and dip, there was artichoke dip with French bread, devlilled eggs (made by Bill's mom), assorted cheeses with crackers, grapes and apples ... and cheese straws and breadsticks served with pesto.

Dinner was ready about an hour later ... 

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I use our L-shaped kitchen island for serving, "buffet style" at most of our gatherings. It's central and convenient as most of our house is open from room-to-room.

Our Easter Dinner Menu, 2012:

baked "honey" ham

roast turkey breast

potatoes au gratin

broccoli casserole

antipasto salad*

Annie's macaroni and cheese* - EB's one request, lol!

baked beans*

roasted spring vegetables

cranberry sauce

assorted mustards

Uncle Karl's Irish soda bread

assorted dinner rolls

(I put an * beside the things I made/prepared myself - everything else was contributed by somebody other than me.)

Here I am with my mum, who was keeping EB company while he "chilled" on the couch.

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(EB's not always one for the dinner table. Not for long, anyways, lol.)

And here we have the "dining room" party, which included my dad in the bottom center, then, going counterclockwise: my (little) brother Matt, my cousin Caitlin, and my cousin Colin and his wife, Tina, as well as their two (adorable) little boys, Connor and Finn.

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Oh my goodness, I have to show you this sweet little boy ... Finn is my first cousin's son, so I'm not sure if that makes him my second cousin (once removed)?

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Whatever it makes him, he's such a dear little boy ...  and yes, the baby-lust was surging strong. ;)

So after a brief intermission, in which I had lots of help putting away the leftover food - I set Bill about making coffee, and we got desserts out on the buffet ...

Our Easter Sunday Desserts, 2012:

Auntie Marcia's butterscotch pudding

(served with whipped cream)

cream cheese-frosted vanilla "bird nest" cupcakes*

Guinness Cake*

rhubarb grunt*

Easter blondies*

assorted cookies and candies

freshly brewed coffee

(same * rules apply)

A few shots of the dessert buffet ...

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After desserts there was an Easter egg hunt in the front yard!

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Caitlin and Colin with Connor.

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Crackerjack, Earlybird and Connor.

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Dad and Auntie Marcia.

(As you can see, there's a lot of height in my family ... it just skipped me and my mum, lol.)

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Earlybird, giving the thumbs up!

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My three "Boston Boys" ...

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... spending a special day with their "New York Cousins."

:)

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So by sunset, the party was over and our guests had gone home ... the flowers had drooped and the flames had burned low ... another Easter Sunday was over ...

But a whole Easter season just begun!

Alleluia! 

In my heart, this is what Easter is all about: celebrating the LIFE and the LOVE with which we have been so richly blessed, and all the amazing things we get to enjoy simply because God is so GOOD ...

I thank Him for every year we're together.

Well, my friends, I hope you have enjoyed this rather lengthy "peek" at our family's Easter celebration, and I thank you for sharing in our joy. I had such fun telling you all about it!

"A joy shared is a joy doubled." ~ Unknown

So have a good night, everyone ... I will see you again very soon!


Our Easter Monday Mantel

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Well, despite all my checklists and planning ahead, I just didn't have time to set up our "Alleluia" before Easter Sunday. Luckily though, we have a whole season to celebrate! So today I worked on this nice, quiet "day-after" activity ... it gave me time to think and refocus. :)

(And thanks to Mary Ellen for the inspiration!)

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This spot (our nature shelf on most days), was our Lenten altar, if you remember ... the plain grapevine cross is now bursting with life (flora and fauna) and the bare mantel is now covered in flowers ...

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(tulips from yesterday's dinner and forsythia from the yard) ...

... and candles ...

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(My parents brought this back from Ireland for us.)

... and our lovely statue of the Blessed Mother ...

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... with whom we REJOICE in the MIRACLE of EASTER!

Of course, I had much help putting this all together ...

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;)

I'm still working on my Easter Sunday Recap post ... trying to pare down my pictures, because I took a lot of them! (As in ... we uploaded 445 images last night!) I hope to have that post up later this evening ... and I promise it will contain far less than 400 photos!

Hope you've all had a nice day ...



Blessings to You!

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"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."

Pope John Paul II

Good Sunday Morning, my friends!

It's a glorious morning and before I get on with my day (one boy is up, the others will be soon), I wanted to pop in and say:

Take JOY in this day, this Sunday of all Sundays!

I'm wishing you and yours a beautiful Easter ...

With a glad heart and much love,

~ Dawn


Easter preparations are under way ...

And a Happy Easter Eve to you all!

Busy day here, lots of bustling about in the kitchen - baking, chopping, mixing, etc. Then, as the sun set, there was boiling ... and waiting ... and finally, mixing up those funny little tablets. Plop, plop ... fizz, fizz ... and beautiful Easter eggs were born!

Earlier, I made my rhubarb grunt ... a New England specialty, and family favorite.

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Such pretty spring colors.

Here we have cooling: cupcakes (for decorating tomorrow), Easter blondies, Guinness cake, and the aforementioned rhubarb grunt.

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And I have to show you this lovely lace apron ...

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My mum brought it over today ... it belonged to my grandmother, and she thought I might like to wear it tomorrow while preparing dinner.

She snapped a picture of me wearing it while I was talking on the phone:

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I can remember my grandmother wearing this apron at the holidays ... and I'm so pleased to have it now to wear myself. :)

And just a bit ago, Bill "did the eggs" with the boys.

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As the evening set in, and the light grew soft ... 

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... there appeared three festive baskets on our mantle, just waiting for something "special" to happen tomorrow morning. Before any little boys open their eyes and think that first happy thought ...

:)

So we have one boy in bed sound asleep - and now we're just waiting on the other two. Bill and I are sitting here, watching The Ten Commandments on ABC. How I love this movie! It made such an impression on me when I was a child, and to this day I watch it every year, and enjoy every minute of it.

 So much of what we love is fed by tradition. Holidays for me are all about tradition ... the everyday kind and the kind with a capital T. It brings us together and it makes what we do a little more meaningful ... a little more memorable each year.

So I'll bid you a good night, my friends ... and a Happy Easter Eve ... with a wish for quiet and peace in your heart ... and a hope for a bright and blessed new morn!