Tuesday, April 26, 2011

egg dying

Saturday we had two families plus two other friends over to dye eggs.
88 eggs.
11 kids.
Lots of activity.

Lets let the pictures speak for themselves, shall we?
(mostly just because I am too brain dead to write....)

Then Sunday we had an easter egg hunt and lunch together at the Jensen's.

(we're a little shy on easter baskets out here....)

We made egg salad with all of the dyed eggs.
Needless to say, we had a lot of egg salad left over.

We are incredibly thankful for the friends that God has blessed us with here.
Lots of good times.


More Easter to come soon.

Friday, April 22, 2011

devotion verses duty

There is so much that God has been teaching me lately.
I've wanted to put it all down here for a while, but some of it just needs to be done when I have time to really think, ponder and clearly express myself.
Having rainy day after rainy day with the kids - not in school - has not provided much opportunity.
Tonight is really my first chance.
Being that I am pooped out, I'll start with a little bitty thought.
But be warned, however.  As little bitty as it is, it is pretty darn big.
If you stop to really think about it and look at your life and your heart, it ain't so little bitty any more!

I have had the incredible blessing, since January, to be part of a bible study with some spectacular women.

While I felt like I had to beg and plead to be part of this group (not that they come across as elitist - they just already had their thing going), I am so glad I did (I just hope they are glad too!!).
(I stole these pictures off of their blogs... very sneaky and extremely high tech of me)

We meet every two weeks and are studying women in the bible.
The last time we met we studied Mary Magdalene. 

At the time, I didn't make the connection with it being the Easter season and us studying Mary.  Much of  where Mary shows up is at the death and resurrection of Christ.
Katie, who led this study, focussed on the difference between duty and devotion.

Mary Magdalene served Christ out of devotion.  
Someone who serves out of duty isn't jumping up at the crack of dawn to serve someone who is already dead (although boy was she surprised when she got there!).  
Everything we read about her shows her devotion again and again.
Go ahead and look for yourself.  I don't think you'll find one teeny tiny bit of a duty-driven woman.

That is how I want to live.
All too often I know that I am serving Christ out of duty.
Why would I do that?
Why would I spend time serving Him because I felt like I had to?
That is not what He wants.
It isn't what He deserves.
And it sure isn't what He does.

If I really think, really spend time realizing who He is, what He has done and what His reasons were/are there is no way I could continue in choosing to live a life of duty.

Duty equals drudgery.
Devotion equals passion.

good friday

I woke up this morning knowing that I wanted to do something to signify Good Friday.
Every Easter I get a little frustrated with myself for not being prepared. 

Why is it that we spend weeks and weeks doing things for Christmas - which, granted, is extremely significant in the Christian life - but almost nothing for Easter? - which, without Easter, Christmas would mean nothing.
Jesus, taking on human limitations, being born fully man, while remaining fully God - it's all very amazing and all - but He did it with a purpose.
He had a Reason.
It wasn't to show off that He could do it - 
it was so that He could live as we live, and then ultimately die to bring us to God; to save us.
Easter is the most integral celebration of our faith.

Thankfully, God can give inspiration, and something can be done in a short amount of time.
(I still do, however, want to be much more prepared and intentional for next year!)
It mainly came from this idea of Christmas being the starting point - and one tradition we do at Christmas, combined with something our home church does every Good Friday.

We have some firewood, so I decided to make a cross.
Little pieces are in short supply, so I cut off, with much difficulty (all we have is a rusty old hand saw), a small branch off of a larger one.
 I attempted to nail the two small pieces to the large one, but the wood was a little too strong, and I am a little too weak, so that didn't quite work.
 So I got some twine and roughly tied the branches on - securing with a little hot glue.
Then I assembled the needed materials:
* Our Jesus stocking
(man, I don't think I ever posted about that - completely pathetic.... I'll have to do that next year)
* Our newly made cross
* paper
* pencils
* pins
* bible
We sat around the table with these items and first reread what we "gave" Christ for Christmas (that is the Jesus stocking deal - we write down or draw pictures of what we wan to give Jesus the following year).  It was to remind us what we gave and to see how we are doing on that gift.
Then we read the crucifixion story and talked about what Jesus did, how He felt and how amazing it is that we get both the punishment removed and we receive the prize even though we deserved none of it.
After we talked about all these things, we all wrote down or drew a picture of something we needed to confess.  Sins we were sorry for - could be not following up on our Christmas gift to Christ, or something else - and then thanked Him for His gift of forgiveness and sacrifice.
We then pinned or "nailed" these to the cross.

After we prayed (and a few spent a bit of time with some tears) I brought the cross to our empty fireplace to signify the tomb.
There the cross and sins will sit until Easter morning:
Resurrection Sunday.
No greater day could there ever be.

canvases, faces, floors.... whatever

Needed: more boredom busters
Solution: more paint

So we painted more canvases.  Good thing I had them on hand.
Now, remember this:
 Look closely at the picture Lucy is painting here.
 While imitation might be the most sincere form of flattery, it is most certainly the most annoying.
Mia was less than impressed.
I can relate.
I used to hate it when people would copy me, and honestly, I often still do.
Pretty sure it is just pride - I want acknowledgement for my ideas.  Something I still, even after all these years, need to get over.

In spite of the little conflict, they did have a good time.
Mia did something altogether new.
 And Cade did a miniature replica of his previous picture.... no picture included.

Once canvases were completed and got boring, we moved on to faces.

What a handsome lot.

And once we got tired of faces, we moved on to the floors.
Oops, actually the floors happened in the midst of the canvas painting.
Its amazing how a five year old can spread so much "love" even with proper cardboard protection underneath.  
It's an astounding talent that she manages to thrill us with over and over and over.

braided bread

Way back last weekend, I needed to bring something to the Easter picnic.
Why not Easter bread, I thought.
I was going to make a traditional (not my tradition, but for many others) braided ring with the eggs in it.  The kids thought the idea of the eggs was weird and didn't want that.  Then Mia had the brilliant idea of making it into a cross instead.
So a cross it was.
I used a recipe other than one I would normally make.
It looked good.
 Actually, I made two of them.
One, Maddy and I decided, looked like a guagua de pan so she had a friend got to snuggle with the little baby.
Only for a minute or two.....
I whipped up a little lemon glaze and poured that on.
Looks pretty yummy.
In reality, it was only okay.
A few days later I made another one for Mia's Easter party in her class.  I made it with my cinnamon bun recipe and it was about five hundred times better.
Okay, maybe not quite 500, but really, really good.
That one was more of a twisted cinnamon braided thing, and then slathered on cream cheese icing.
As tasty as it was, the kids did miss the lemon glaze.
So next time, it is braided bread, using the cinnamon bun recipe but with lemon glaze.
We'll see if we can please everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter bunny bums

Lovely little bums.
No - not a typo.  That's was we used to call them growing up.
Every Easter mom would make Easter bunny buns (aka bums) and now every Easter I do the same....
because I'm trying to be as good a mom as mine was/is.
Not an easy act to follow!
Since every step of making this yumiliciousness is beautiful, I thought it necessary to photograph many of the steps.
I wish I could capture the smells to go with the pictures.  
Someone needs to invent scratch'n'sniff computer screens.
The smells of fresh orange and yeast.  
Oh my goodness.

First, the recipe, because you really are going to want to make these:
1 package yeast (up here you only want to use about a teaspoon or so)
1/4 c warm water
1 c scalded milk
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c shortening (oil would work too)
1 t salt
2 beaten eggs
1/4 c orange juice
2 T orange zest
5 1/2 c flour

Start by scalding the milk over the stove or in the microwave.  Scalding is basically heating it to the point just before it boils.  Add the sugar and the oil or shortening.  You'll need to let it cool a little - to the point that you can stick your finger in it and keep it in there for a few seconds without thinking you are going to burn yourself.

Then zest some beautiful, bright oranges.  Mmmmm.
And then juice them.
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it sit.
Mix the orange juice, zest and eggs.
Then mix all three concoctions together: the orange/egg, milk/sugar/oil and the water/yeast.
Once that is all combined, add the flour, one cup at a time.
To save yourself a little muscle fatigue, you can let your dough hook do some of the kneading.
But I only take advantage of the dough hook for a little while.
There is something simply divine about hand kneading dough.  I really and truly love doing it.
(plus, I've got achilles tendonitis so I can't work out.... my 7-8  minutes of kneading was about the only exercise I got all day!)
Your dough will look like this:
A beautiful smooth ball of yummy goodness.

Put that puppy in a lightly greased bowl, cover it and let it rise for a good hour at least - up to two, if need be (until it doubles in size).
I neglected to take a picture of the dough all risen and fabulous.
That is my favorite part - when it is airy and fat.... oh well.
Anyway, punch it down and then after you beat it up, let it rest for a few minutes.

Then it is time to roll it out.
I cut it in half to make it easier to work with, but you could roll the whole thing if you want.
Roll to about 1/2 inch thick and then cut into 1/2 inch (maybe a little wider) strips.
Time to recruit the kids.
I didn't take any good pictures of how you roll up the strips, so you'll just have to use your brain and figure it out for yourself by looking at the pictures.  Sorry.
We do them two different ways: the back of the bunny (one strip of dough sort of folded in half, twisted twice and then a blob of dough for the tail) and the side of the bunny (one strip of dough spiraled into a figure eight, with two little pieces of dough made into ears and a little blob for the tail).
I usually dip the pieces for the tails and ears into a little water to help them stick.
This is Mia's special bunny.
And Cade's:
And Lucy's, with a little help from mom:
Maddy just helped with them all.
Now let your little rabbits rise for a good half hour or so.
Meanwhile, heat the over to 375.

Once they have risen a little, stick those puppies (or bunnies, in this case) in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and utterly luscious.
Take them out and let them cool.
Meanwhile, make some glaze.
Oops, no photos here either..... I'm not very good at this.

The glaze is:
2 T orange juice
2 T hot water
1 t butter
2 cups icing sugar
Just mix it all up and brush, spoon or pour it on those bunnies.
All ready for the kids to eat.
Only thing missing is a photo of them stuffing their faces and relishing the goodness of a little bunny bum.