easter

the weekend + linen baskets

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IMG_1837 Page 3 IMG_1816 Happy belated Easter!

We have had a wonderful week of transitioning from adventures + family in NYC to Easter + family back in Pennsylvania.

I've been excited to finally make some simple linen Easter egg-hunt baskets for my youngest three this year.  The morning before we left for NYC I quickly finished sewing off the last basket.  I left the simple initial embroidery for Sunday morning when the house was still quiet from sleeping-in, worn out travelers.

 

My kids enjoyed their first Easter egg hunt with their out-of-town cousins in years.   The pictures tell it all.  And the little linen baskets held up well to swinging, twirling, and the load of filled eggs.  We watched our Church's annual worldwide conference, went on sunny walks, and spent the whole day at Grandma + PaPa's.  A wonderful family Easter.

I was inspired by these cute mini linen baskets but they were way too small.  So I made up my own pattern for the bags using linen, heavy-duty iron-on stabilizer interfacing, lace trim, and some vintage fabrics for the handles.  They turned out simple and sweet, just the way I wanted them to be.

I hope you had a special weekend with your loved ones as well.

 

(Wanna see highlights from our family adventures in NYC?  Check out my Instagram feed @nshiffler.) 

 

the sleepy time gal

 

 

 

 

 

 

spring + easter in our home

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Spring and Easter.

I try so hard as a mother to teach my children--by what I say and do, how we decorate our home, and through our traditions--of the similarities of Spring and Easter and how they naturally and beautifully compliment each other.

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Spring looks like speckled robin and hen eggs and birds and dandelions in glasses of water in our house.  Spring is new life, new birth, and a fresh renewal to life after a cold dark winter.

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Easter is celebrating that renewal as well: reverently and gratefully celebrating Jesus Christ's profound resurrection and what that means for me and my whole family.  The fact that He has broken the bonds of death forever.

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We have Spring traditions the week before Easter that are fun to do with cousins.

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And we have quiet Easter traditions we do the week leading up to Easter Sunday that bring a special feeling in our home.

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And beautifully, the hope and newness of Spring's excitement and wonder lead up to the most wondrous of all weeks, that of the Savior's suffering for each of our sins and weaknesses and ultimate resurrection.

This picture over my mantel is the most beautiful centerpiece and backdrop of everything I hope children feel and know about this time of year.  There is infinite hope, forgiveness, understanding, and peace because of Him.

Because of Him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S3TI4bYerU

the sleepy time gal

 

 

 

 

gourds for spring

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 We have come to love this little gourd operation close to home called Meadowbrooke Gourds.  Fields upon fields are covered with every variety of gourd you can think of and beyond.  The gourds are grown and then transformed by local artisans into seasonal decorations and beautiful birdhouses. (Here's a fun time lapse video of how gourds are grown and on the little gourd house seen above.)

We like to visit the retail gourd shop for ideas and then peruse their raw, cleaned gourds in the side warehouse.  (Do you remember we got gourds in the winter to paint and turn into snowmen?)  We've been anticipating spring's arrival to return to the shop for their "large egg" shaped gourds (12 for $6!) to paint and keep as part of our (lacking) springtime decorations.  Some "eggs" were painted with stripes, polka dots, and decorated with glitter, while others were reserved for hen eggs and robin eggs.  (We just speckled those today for the Easter dinner table!)

Along with our beautiful gourd eggs set out on the kitchen table is an ever growing heap of grass, miniature wild flowers, and, really, anything that is alive outside brought inside.  I don't mind.  It is a nice change to see greenery and living plants and worms over bowls of snow and icicles on my kitchen table.  Today, actually, marks our first hike of spring.  The Appalachian Trail will be where we begin our season's hiking adventures with something simple, short, and well, just getting out and doing it.   I keep learning that lesson over and over again; sometimes it doesn't matter how you do it but just that you do it.

 

the sleepy time gal

easter

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We dyed eggs with what we had on hand: frozen blueberries, strawberries, and onion skins.

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The subtle colors were absolutely beautiful.  They greeted the girls Easter morning in "pockets" of our Hungarian spring bread.  One egg for every child.

(The tradition is to set the Easter table the night before with the sweet bread ring with empty pockets.  To the children's surprise, the pockets are filled with the Easter Egg on Easter morning.)

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This was our first Easter dinner at home.  Ever.

With a few couples to join us, we had the most wonderful time preparing our home for a feast and simple Easter program.  The children's table enjoyed some cute hare-like rolls, thanks to Caroline.  (My attempt turned out more like a hippo.)

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Our central decoration for both tables were our beautiful eggs!  I loved them so much!

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There were meaningful touches of family all across our Easter table: my great aunt's crouched tablecloth and Bobby's grandmother's china.

Before kids were exhausted, we read verses of scripture, sang songs, even a duet with my Caroline, and slowed down and quieted enough to reflect and celebrate Christ's gift of resurrection at the conclusion of the week.  

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 It was so special to create memories of Easter and open up our home this year.

(And not even one photo of Rowan in his yellow pants!  Maybe another day.)

the sleep time gal

 

spring nests

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I'm privileged to be a part of the oldest and largest women's organization in the world--the Relief Society--with over 6 million women in 170 countries.  We serve others, the community, get involved in humanitarian aid, learn to garden, budget, become stronger spiritually, and so on and so forth.  It is an incredible organization within my church.

In my congregation, my responsibility is to help plan events for our local Relief Society.  In March, we celebrate the birthday of the organization with a special celebration which always includes good food.  

Our planning committee came up with a beautiful theme for our celebration (It is this Thursday evening!) of "Birds of a Feather Flock Together".  Every part of the evening is in keeping with the theme, including the very pretty favor: the spring nests.  

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The Relief Society committee was in my home this Saturday morning to finish our planning and put these nests together.  They were so absolutely adorable I couldn't help but share them with you today--with plenty of time for you to try them out for any of your Easter celebrations.

Enjoy!

spring nests

Makes 10-15 nests per batch , depending on size of nests

 

nests:

3 TBSP butter

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

4 cups mini marshmallows

6 cups chow mein noodles

 

filling in nest:

1/2- 1 cup melted chocolate chips

coconut

green food coloring

candy eggs (Mini Cadbury Eggs or Whopper's Speckled Eggs)

 

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Think of the nests just like making rice crispy treats, just with chow mein noodles.

Heat the butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add marshmallows and peanut butter and stir until melted.  Add chow mein noodles and stir until they are coated.

Take off heat.

Take a handful of chow mein mixture and form into a nest.  Form it on a counter top so it will have a flat bottom.  With you hands, work the side of the mixture to create a nice rim to your nest.

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To fill nests:

Turn your coconut into green glass.   Toss some coconut into a ziplock bag with a few drops of green food coloring, seal and toss.  Voila!  Green Grass.

Spoon a little melted chocolate inside each nest to just cover the bottom so the coconut will stick.  Now sprinkle the chocolate with green coconut.

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Place a few candy eggs in each nest.  

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Amber, my friend who shared the recipe, makes these with her children every Easter.  It is their special project they do together this time of year.

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We made several batches and they came together quite easily.  They would be fun for families and beyond: events to raise money, to give to neighbors, or for other spring-time events.

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And they bag up pretty, too.

 

I'm definitely feeling excited for a very special, meaningful week with my family this week leading up to Easter Sunday.  Yesterday being Palm Sunday, I thought it the perfect time to teach my girls the meaning of the Easter Egg, the most beautiful symbol of new life.  

What a wonderful week it is to teach our children. 

the sleepy time gal

 

four dresses is how I show my love

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Good morning to you all!  I hope your weekend was special.  We've been slowly getting back into our routine with OB appointments and such thrown in the mix.

Easter weekend was quite wonderful.  Our "Spring Celebration" was everything I was hoping it would be on Saturday, leaving Sunday to be a quiet, thought-provoking day.

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New watering cans were the highlight of the "Spring Celebration."  They filled their cans with jelly beans and the festivities began!  Easter egg hunts and "spring" pictionary inside when we were too cold to bear any more games outdoors and just simple family time together all day.

I happened to think about my girls wearing something special for Easter Sunday last Wednesday.  I couldn't decide what would be easier, looking through mountains of clothes in the basement (around the mice's territory) for something for them to wear or skipping all of that and making something new and fresh.  I opted for the rodent-free option.  (We have caught three mice I am happy to say, that have been sneaking our food storage. Bobby's got the skills.)

Anyway, special dresses.

My weekend was really booked.  So I quickly did a search for the easiest dress on the planet, a pillowcase dress, on Google to get inspired.  I've never made one but knew the idea behind it.  So Friday night I starting cutting out four sets of rectangles with curved corners cut out of the top halves which would become arm holes.  Now I was committed to making it up as I went.  Caroline's dress was whipped up Friday night which wasn't doing much for me.  Since I used my brown linen it just looked like she was wearing a sack of potatoes.

Saturday after the morning festivities I was back sewing in between the next set of activities.

And then, 8:30pm that night was my last attempt to pull something together for everyone.  The dresses really do whip up quite fast.  Two side seams, the trim or hem, bias tape to finish off the arms, and the top sewn for ribbon to be threaded through.

I finished the remaining three dresses in a little over an hour of fast sewing and ironing.

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The twins' dresses I knew would be yellow, with the splash of blue as the ribbon and lace for the trim.  Sewing their cotton dresses were easy and easy to like.

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Caroline's and Johanna's were another story...

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I had to find a way late Saturday night to make them pretty and unique.  I decided to keep the touch of blue and lace theme from the twins' dresses and add something special to the older girls' dresses.

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Caroline got a long slender wrap-around pocket with some of Johanna's leftover quilt fabric I've been cutting with of touch of Granny's lace.  Instead of loud colored ribbon to tie off the top of the dress, I used another less busy lace I had shoved in the back of my ribbon drawer.

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Johanna's has a different lace at the top with a piece of collar lace that I cut and machine sewed onto the side of her dress.  I happened upon a blue oilcloth covered button I made a few weeks back and sewed it right in the middle.

Doesn't it always work that way - that the dresses you can't stand initially become your favorites??  I was so thrilled with how the linen fell upon my big girls' bodies and the subtle antique details.

(In case you're wondering, they are all wearing white cotton blouses from Target under the pillowcase dresses.)

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(Thanks for sticking with the photo-taking, girls.)

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It made my Easter Sunday that much more special to see my girls so thrilled to be wearing something I made them.  If you're new to sewing, this is really the easiest dress out there.  There are many simple tutorials to follow as well, if you wish.  Once you get the basics down the embellishing is the most exciting part.  Once your little girl outgrows the length of the dress, these dresses are adorable with leggings or pants.

Do you have any special family photos to link for us of your family on Easter?  I'd love to see.

much love,

the sleepy time gal