Happy Easter

Is Easter a favorite holiday for you?  Why?  I confess I love the jelly beans and malted eggs, but not the Peeps.  I despise plastic “grass”, which like Christmas tree needles can be found in odd places months after the holiday.  Yet, I love Easter for its deep spiritual meaning and its fun associated activities.

As a child, Easter was about the candy and the new outfit.  The outfit included ruffled socks, white patent leather buckle shoes, ruffled under pants, a full slip, a dress, a hat, a purse and gloves.  We usually shopped at Sears for the outfit. Yes, we died eggs, had an egg hunt outside (weather permitting), received a multi-colored fake-straw basket full of candy and we went to church.  I do not recall any emphasis on the Easter bunny.  We knew all our gifts were from our parents.

Mint

My mom, pregnant with my brother, my 5 year old sister, and me at almost 3.  The coursages were from my daddy.

As an adult, I still like the candy.  But now the special ham dinner with the family is more important to me.  Even though I don’t like coconut, a Lamb cake is the perfect dessert because it represents Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God sacrificed to take away our sins. I savor Easter worship, and if  I can also include a Good Friday or Maundy Thursday worship, those are a welcome bonus.  I appreciate my Catholic friends’ attitude about, and reverence towards Holy Week, which goes from Palm Sunday to Easter.

basket

with a mouthful of candy

As a parent I used green cloth to line multi-colored plastic baskets that I filled with candy, added a few half-dollars, and sometimes a Christian music CD or DVD. I don’t recall when or why I started giving half-dollars, but they were happily accepted.  The baskets were presented on Good Friday or Saturday so that candy was not the highlight of Easter Sunday.  I generally bought my children a new outfit but not of the same caliber or level of fancifulness as what I wore as a child.

eye patch

doesn’t every boy wish for a pirate patch in his basket?

 

I think I enjoyed the egg hunts as much as my children.  I still enjoy hosting them for my grandchildren.  At an outdoor hunt there is always the risk that some egg will not be found till August.  Hopefully that egg is not the one with the money in it. At my hunts, I do not let all the children begin hunting at the same time but let the youngest start first and give him or her a few minutes of hunting before allowing the next oldest to begin.  Staggering their starts even just a few minutes apart prevents the oldest child from quickly finding all the easily hidden eggs which the youngest child needs.

 

 

 

Here are a few more family ideas for possible Easter traditions:

  1. Watch an inspirational movie, such as Risen (for children over 6)
  2. Dye boiled eggs
  3. Take a basket to an elderly neighbor or relative
  4. Make Easter decorations
  5. Choose a Pinterest project to do as a family
  6. Go to a live Passion of Christ play
  7. Visit another church for their Good Friday worship
  8. Make a lamb cake (with or without the coconut)
  9. Make Easter egg nests
  10. Attend a sunrise worship service

 

Easter Egg Nests

(recipe given to me by my mother-in-law more than 30 years ago)

2 12 oz. bags of milk chocolate chips (or use 1 bag semi-sweet & 1 bag butterscotch)

1 large bags of chow Mein noodles

2 bags of jelly bird (small) jelly beans

Melt the chips in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour in the dry noodles.  Mix well enough to cover the noodles.

Drop by the heaping tablespoon onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.   Add 3-5 eggs (jelly beans) onto each nest.    Put in refrigerator to harden.

Menu Plans

Do you make a menu plan?  Do you eat the same thing week after week?  I hate making the plan and the accompanying grocery shopping list. I like variety but it is so difficult to achieve.  I have never started the day with the thought, “hooray, today I get to make a new menu plan.”  Never.  But, I love having it in place when it is finished, especially if I force myself to make a plan for two weeks.   Having a plan avoids the daily struggle of deciding what to prepare that day and will I have on hand all the necessary ingredients or will it require another trip to the store.IMG_1482

There are some meals which I think are only seasonal.   Bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwiches should only be eaten in the months when homegrown tomatoes are ripe.  I had one today and two last week.  I rarely eat or serve soup, homemade or pre-packaged, in warm weather.  But in cooler weather we eat soup about once a week.  Using a gas grill instead of charcoal allows outdoor grilling to be stretched to nearly 8 months of the year.

I have attempted to get menu ideas from my children with various results.  One creative and helpful son usually suggested something such as “fried whale blubber”.  None requested vegetables.  Although, some would eat a few vegetables.  For many years our daughter was a “starchatarian”.  Two of our sons loved to guess what was being served based on the smells wafting towards them as they approached the kitchen from another level of the house.  Most often they were correct.

Long ago I began posting the weekly menu in a prominent place so that all could read for themselves what would be served each day.  My husband rarely asks what’s for dinner.  He will, however, ask what time it will be served. If I avoid foods that are spicy, he eats most anything. I appreciate that. I seldom cook on Sunday evenings preferring to eat just popcorn and fruit or cookies.

I enjoy cooking with other women because I always learn something new.  Last winter an elderly friend taught me to how to make homemade noodles and chicken.  I have a 100% failure rate for anything containing yeast.  Occasionally I am brave enough to attempt it again.

What does menu planning have in common with parenting?

  1. Planning, preparation and organization goes a long way towards reducing stress and making life easier.
  2. Both require some flexibility and adjustments along the way.
  3. Communication is vital – keep the plan visible and clearly communicate behavioral and other expectations and consequences.
  4. Ditch the plan and start over when necessary.
  5. Keep learning new recipes, trying new foods, new cooking methods, and new parenting strategies.
  6. Ask an elderly person for their techniques in cooking, for a recipe or how they handled particular parenthood issues such as potty training or sibling rivalry.
  7. Remember your goals are delisious, nutritious food and independent, mature adults.
  8. Dry, burnt, tasteless food can be endured or tossed. Recipes can be scrapped or redone.
  9. Forgive your spouse, yourself and your children and give them do-overs also.

IMG_1483Aunt Betty’s  Sausage and Gravy

In a deep skillet using medium heat, cook and crumble one pound of breakfast sausage.  I prefer Bob Evans original.  Do not drain the grease. Sprinkle with 1/3 c of flour and stir well.  Add 3 c. of milk and cook till bubbly and thickened.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve over homemade biscuits or Grands refrigerated biscuits in the tube baked per instructions.    We all like this for breakfast or supper.        Enjoy.