Easter Preparations for the eye and mouth

Spring Decor

Now is the time for Lent. It is a time when we prepare for Easter. It is not a time to yet celebrate Easter. But still, with preparation, some exciting things must take place, such as planning the Easter menu. And as we live in California, spring comes early, and so do my spring decorations.

IMG_6601Faux ranunculus looking sweet on a decorative plate my mother bought me with an Art Nouveau floral scroll, my favorite motif.

IMG_6600As my first venture into neutral decorating, I’ve selected accept colors for each season. In fall, it was orange. In Winter, it was blue or indigo. For spring, think pink!

IMG_6606A coral throw below a floral print trio encased in a cream frame.

IMG_6598Depression-era glass with found bird’s nest complete with foam eggs (spring is too long in California to decorate with real eggs, Minnesotans could probably pull that off).

IMG_6592I’ve laid a floral table runner with beautiful pinks and greens across the mantel and added some more spring touches. A vintage wood stool, a touch of silver, wood pieces from my father’s orchard, a tray from an estate sale, an egg basket I bought when we had chickens.

IMG_6590Incidentally, the nests are all from the home we had in the country, where we also had chickens.

IMG_6591I’ve added a moving pink accent in the living room. I’s important to find things the carry the eye around the room. Please see below.

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If there is any day to celebrate it is Easter. Easter is the greatest feast we have in the Catholic Church. So the meal requires due focus. This year my parents are out-of-town. Our company may be smaller but I am delighted to say our parish priest is planning on joining us.

Without further ado…

The Menu

Grilled zucchini rolls with herbs and cheese

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/grilled-zucchini-rolls-with-herbs-and-cheese-recipe.html

Broiled Lobster Tails

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/broiled-lobster-tails/

Amazing ingredients demand simple preparation.

Spring green risotto

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/spring-green-risotto-recipe.html

Herb Biscuits

Lemon Buttermilk Cake With Pistachio Ice Cream

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/lemon-buttermilk-cake

 Menu from Easter Past

This is quite the departure from previous Easters. We prepared one my my favorite menus on our first Easter as a married couple. If we acquire more guests, we may borrow from the old.

Sardinian Lamb Kabobs over couscous

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sardinian-lamb-kabobs-over-couscous

Deviled Eggs

Spring Salad

Italian Easter Bread

Angel Food Cake

IMG_1842Bon Appetit!

Mental prep for the seasons

About a week ago our 7-month old started waking every 45 minutes. This happened for two nights in a row. The second night we experience two some blessed hour-and-a-half stretches. Soon after her first tooth in the top row came through. It takes a while for me to catch back up on sleep, thus that lack of creative work and creative writing. But, so as not to neglect you, here is a look back on Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating. Naturally I have been reflecting on the past as I plan what we will do in this new home, this new year.

I love Thanksgiving. I love feasts and I love setting the table for those feasts. Last year we hosted Thanksgiving which was a decision good and bad. The good? Take a look…

DSCN3041I ordered a dark blue with gold-painted table runner from West Elm after seeing it featured in Real Simple reasonably priced (thus beginning my current love affair with West Elm; I’ve purchased one thing since).

DSCN3042
My wonderful husband spray painted pumpkins from our patch with gold, silver and bronze paint. I laid out dark blue damask stripe napkins and found some walnut branches from the clippings outside. For me that last step “made it.”

DSCN3043I used brown velvet ribbon to tie the silverware together, laid on top of the napkin and silver chargers. Half-yard pieces of fabric from Rainbow Fabrics (a local amazing store) grounded the centerpiece on the oval table. I used to love to do the formal settings with silverware all in its proper place, but with the advent of toddlers such a setting never makes it straight to dinner time.

DSCN3044The bad, or rather difficult from that Thanksgiving came with having two children under age three and being pregnant with the third, hosting not one, but two sides of the family, and having a generous family member bring a bird that was too big for the roaster. So not all things worked out. Both sides of the family are more casual than our little nucleus of a family, and did no revel in the use of china and real silver. Other than the table settings, I have more “difficult” memories than good. That’s life and learning. My secret to hosting parties now: don’t cook! It seems to go smoother that way (read: less stressful). I’m also not hosting Thanksgiving this year. Instead, in our little family we plan to have an un-Thanksgiving menu on Wednesday: rotisserie duck, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Brandy Alexander Pie. We’ll still be thankful, but with a new menu, the day before, and do the family thing on Thursday.

After Thanksgiving comes shopping (as you know from my previous post). I am Catholic. As a Catholic, the Christmas season follows Christmas with the 12 days of Christmas (Christmas day to Epiphany, celebrating when the Wise Men brought gifts to the Infant). Prior to Christmas is Advent, a time of preparation. So we prepare, but we don’t pretend it’s Christmas.

That’s all well and good, but I also grew up in the world and its difficult to hold off on certain decorating, certain music, certain food (read: candy, cookies) because it’s all so sentimental and wonderful. No snow here means the outside doesn’t get decorated into a winter wonderland, so its up to the interiors to fulfill the job.

The compromise: winter decorating.

In reality, I’m not sure where one ends and the other begins, and as I write this, I’m not sure it matters because my preferred decorations are rather neutral. Early in our marriage my husband stated he would like a blue and silver Christmas tree. I began the search. Along with an antique store angel, here is what it came to last year. We bought a $25 tree and placed it on a table with a kid-gate around it to protect the ornaments. Not sure how to solve this dilemma this year: new house, greater child mobility.

photo 2 More from last year. In my love of antiques, I added a silver Christmas tree on this side table with silver tapers.

photo 1I made wreaths for first time using Christmas tree clippings, juniper and olive branches. We (my husband) spray painted found pine cones and I made the creche the focus for the room.

photo 3

I like the effect of the bright red satin bow. This year I’ll make them again, only better because I know more, and without juniper because I hated working with it and we don’t live near a juniper tree anymore.

photo 5I did my best with that home to make an “entrance.” There were no wood doors, only sliding glass doors in this dogtrot style home. For the exterior, along with crazy-expensive-to-run Christmas lights (definitely investing LED this year), we put up a giant Charlie Brown Christmas tree. If you look carefully you can see the red ornament at the end. I suppose I did that two years ago because I recognize the tree in it from our “come-and-cut” adventure. Come and cut in the cold and rain with your infant bundled and moby-ed. I think we had more fun going to Tracy Trees the following year, run by a Christian family here in town.

IMG_3821So this year we’ll go to Tracy trees, I’ll make at least one wreath and possibly a holiday (holy day?) banner, like this, and some German glitter homes like these. I’d show you more but the children are hungry and I can’t reveal all my secrets, now can I? More to come.