This year Easter is early, and, right in the last 3 miles of the marathon of getting this house ready. The goal is Wednesday. Truly the goal is Tuesday night so Wednesday all I need to do is a tidy after they depart for school and then hold my breath until it is sold.
I’m sure you all have experienced the chaos that is the third quarter of a project, everything is torn up and you have been working and working and still, it looks 10x worse than when you started? That was our Friday and Saturday. Sunday, we started to actually pull it back together and our house is getting truly ‘done’.
Friends convinced me I did not need to change every doorknob, at least not yet…
I convinced Lars we HAD to either repaint the master or color match it so I could touch up three spots that look like the size of Africa to me but in reality are the comparative size of Fiji. He dutifully went to home depot 2x to get paint and now I’m painting my house with a tiny paintbrush. The Lars list is very long, he has done so much I just don’t put it all here. There was a time on Friday that I couldn’t help thinking how well we actually work together on big stressful projects as our storage trip was suddenly our mini date.
We finally finished the painting in the 2 rooms we were repainting and then I facetimed with my family while scrubbing the trim and floors to get all the tiny paint spots clean. Good thing Magic Erasers were on sale last week, I’ve disintegrated 4 already between walls and floors.
In the breaks between cleaning, we did a little thing called Easter. It was very mellow for us this year and I’m pretty glad it actually fell on April Fools. In the end I handled lack of traditional baskets (in storage) with 3 decorative boxes and then I hid them in the closet and made them a giant basket of socks. Zoe was first up and exploring and found the fake basket and remarked: “at least there is some candy” and then the clever girl found a bag of trash. The living room was early on the hit list so it is pretty clean and decluttered overall and I forgot to dispose of the evidence of basket treats and Zoe found it. Don’t worry, she still believes, maybe even more now because she considered it a mix of a trick and a clue that there were REAL easter baskets somewhere. I’m pretty proud of the way this shook out and I got to hear the sounds of joy when they found them.
This year, due to snow, we hid eggs in the house. Growing up we nearly always had indoor egg hunts but this is the first year weather was bad so it was a new twist for our kids. I think we had about 150 eggs and 3 kids so for a solid 20min they were searching. Easy ones were passed 100 times, hard ones found instantly, in the end, we might be short 2 real eggs but I bet I’ll find them since my plan is to super clean. I did find 4 missed plastic eggs that afternoon cleaning the bookshelf, they were pretty well hidden.
Easter food focused on just the 5 of us. We had a breakfast guest who also witnessed the egg hunt and then helped with the house and then went home again. Pancakes for breakfast, Lox and bagels for lunch, and Rack of Lamb with homemade french fries and asparagus for dinner. Niamh made a pie, two actually, but that is another story. I’m just glad she is interested in cooking.
Some things I planned did happen, others didn’t, but I think the weekend went pretty well. The kids entertained themselves mostly and helped a bit. They are old enough to all shower solo and understand that “mommy is a bit stressed right now”. By the end I felt like I had spent hours at the gym when all I did was move furniture, scrub floors/walls/trim, wash windows and pick up and move a million little things to either the trash, its home, or a box for storage.
Today the plan is to stop doing new projects and continue pulling it all together again. We have a contractor coming to power wash and do a few minor outside things. I have a meeting on the new house to pick plumbing. Lars is back to work and the kids are back to school. I feel bad about not doing my normal holiday reach out to friends but I’m sure everyone will understand. By next week I’ll be in maintenance mode only and while that won’t be nothing it sure won’t be the job it is to get to the ‘show ready’ we nearly are.
I should actually put that the other way around since the Birthday party was 3 days before Easter but either way I’m about a week past due to post about either so I’m not sweating the details. (This is a long post so settle down or hide in the bathroom)
Today I finished the thankyou cards, usually, I do them faster but I have been in a fight with my computer and phone and pictures talking nicely to each other but I finally got it done. I know I like my thank you collages, but, I now have proof that the kids (at least one) likes it too since when I was snapping pictures and asking each kid to pose with their birdhouse the two that have been guests before actually mentioned ‘knowing why I take so many pictures’. Anyway, this 9th birthday was a bit of a turn in the road for us in birthday planning because instead of a BIG party with MANY people invited this was a tiny party with very few invited because it was a sleepover. I like both styles, but, I’m glad we went small this time because I was able to do some cool things with them.
- First is something I think is pretty clever and not an absolute Pinterest thing (but inspired by) – I made envelopes that had each activity on a paper inside. I had the stack displayed on the table and it instantly drew in the kids. The first one was opened when everyone had arrived – it made a bunch of activities really feel like they had a ‘theme’ and it was so easy, I just wrote on plain printer paper and folded it into an envelope and numbered the envelopes. Took me about 5 minutes and very worth it
- Activity #1; We made our own pizza! This is the easiest thing ever if you even have the most basic knowledge of dough. I made enough dough for 2 full pizza’s and that was plenty for 6 personal pizza’s and 1 pretty big one (mine!). I suggest just buying a jar of pasta sauce pre-seasoned with basil and/or garlic, it is WAY better than the ‘pizza’ sauce they sell in the store. I made the dough in advance and they had the fun of shaping and adding sauce, cheese, and toppings. There were some very creative designs in the end.
- While the Pizza cooked the next envelope pointed them downstairs to decorate some bird houses. Paint and glitter stickers are a universal love of all and they happily created while I got the next batch of things ready.
- Everyone totally enjoyed their pizza, something about making it custom makes it taste better. Once the pizza was done we moved on to the very important cake portion of the event and as the sun was going down they devoured the rainbow cake.
- The setting sun was actually a closely noted thing for me because it was key for my next activity – we took a little drive to a local park and I broke out 100 glow sticks for their entertainment. You would think that 100 might be excessive but it was about perfect and it indulged all their creative building of things that glowed.
- Then a small road trip to bring one of our guests home, this was actually her first party altogether and a sleepover was totally pushing it with her parents. I hope they let her come to future parties because she had so much fun!
- Home again and another envelope. While they were reading it I actually pulled out a premade basket that was full of face masks, soda, snacks, and a movie. The note had a minor treasure hunt to find the basket and that was icing on the cake. They gladly tucked in to snacks and floats and I painted their faces with gack that they could peel off (peel off is more fun than wash off) while they watched Moana. It was a bit late but they were all good and ready for bed at 10:30 when they all brushed and crashed.
With just 2 extra kids I was able to have cozy mattresses for them made of our big pillows and our tot bed mattresses (those things come in handy so often). I also went to bed because I was beat too and as I read for a half hour I could hear some giggles but they all drifted off.
The next morning we had pancakes and hanging out until parents came and all declared it a total success.
The next two days were rather a low after the party high. Lars had a trip so he was gone, the overtired kids got in a cycle of arguments and not listening, and at a particularly low point, I listesd them for sale on Facebook. We managed to do the two things that were necessary for holiday prep; easter egg dyeing and Figoli decorating. They were bright points actually, surrounded by lots of breaks and deep breathing and attempting to keep it all together. My mom called me when I listed them for sale, knowing that I was probably at the end of the road, and I’m glad that I have a good mom. She isn’t close enough to come over and help but she is intouch enough to know when to call and what to say.
I created easter baskets in relative peace as the kids were put to bed, exhausted, and fell asleep well.
Our easter bunny tradition is to put puzzle pieces in each plastic egg that the easter bunny leaves with us. It is a fun way to fill the eggs that is not full of candy or some other thing that would be unequal unless egg finding is too closely supervised. I have well over 100 eggs so they get to find tons and then they are all combined to make the puzzle. This year I also added a few geode eggs, both in their baskets so they would figure out what they were before they found rocks in their hunt and dump them in the yard. I got the geodes from Oriental Trading ages ago and it was worth the wait to hear “I got a rock?!?” from Zoe as she opened eggs of candy and toys in her basket.
The day was bright and pretty and it was a very Easter rebirth type of day. They enjoyed the hunt and smashing geodes and doing the puzzle and friends came over and it was a very nice day. I suppose without the low the high does not feel as good… I just closed my eyes to the mess and decided to deal with it all on Monday and enjoyed the evening with everyone.
That is our birthday easter adventure weekend. It feels like a month ago given all that we have done since. I have posts coming out my ears so much is going on so get ready for some long reading over the next few weeks!
weather – getting to be spring all the time now
nap – not today (so far) <-*** I took a nap for a whole hour. that is 1/5th my normal total sleep! While I was asleep Fi also fell asleep. Amazing
Easter Recovery – 99%
House – fair to good
Diet – up a half pound but that’s ok considering
This past weekend for us was Easter, the holiday that has vast religious implications that we semi-ignore. I always feel a bit bad about that but I also don’t want to go to church 2x a year just for major holidays. Honestly, none of the churches here really work for me and Lars just didn’t grow up with the habit and does not intend to make one.
That paragraph has been sticking in me for 2 days. I can’t just say “happy easer!” because I feel like I do not totally disserve this holiday and I can’t skip it because we didn’t and this is as much about the record of my kids growing up as it is anything else. I heard a stat that the largest religion in the US is non-practicing RC and so that puts me in good company (kinda). I enjoyed growing up in my church but that church does not exist here… In a way there are too many options and zero sense of community – I see the same with the fact that there are 7 elementary schools and you can pick any of them. You can’t just bond with your neighbor because of the schools because there is a high likelihood they choose differently.
Anyway, I took a nap and I feel better about life in general. Getting 5 or less hours of sleep a night is just not good for me. I go to bed at midnight, I don’t need to be up until 8am that should be a solid 7, if not 8, but I get 5 because of constant interruption. I’m not sure how to deal with that issue with this child (I dealt with it in each of the others but both were different). That still does not change the fact that I have religious issues/issues with religion but being tired makes them worse so I’m glad I napped. I am running short on typing time though and I didn’t post yesterday because I can’t post about post easter until I tackle easter….
So here is a list!
- we had friends stay over, they changed the dynamic of the weekend for the good
- one of those friends claimed a distinct love of washing dishes, she now has an open invite forever.
- We took the kids to a local egg hunt Saturday and it was great, Won a raffle and Zoe got a prize egg plus it was well run and fun for all.
- Lars cooked a fantastic rack of lamb, I baked a really pretty cake
- I made a very cool trio of easter baskets
- We hid a puzzle in the eggs and we know we lost an egg because the puzzle is 3 pieces short…
- We found a way to make an IPA good – add 3 beers to a pitcher, add the equivalent of 1 beer of water, add 3-4 tbs sugar and a ‘bunch’ of lemon juice.
- After the disaster of behavior on Friday they were very good Saturday and Sunday
- Ate peeps at 7am
- Did 3 loads of the dishwasher over the 2 days and still had a full load Monday to take care of.
- Our red wine glasses are just a tiny bit too tall for the dishwasher
Yesterday I got the house back in line after the crazy weekend of big meals and house guests and we actually had 9 people over on Saturday too for our ‘normal’ game night. It was fun and tiring and our kids will have a different growing up than I did but that’s ok. They are surrounded by loving people and creative energy and we answer their questions about whatever with honesty including religious questions. Niamh has a girl with a head scarf in school who does not celebrate ‘our’ holiday and I told her that just like there are a dozens ways to add up to 10, there are dozens of ways to believe in god. Maybe knowing that there is a lot of ways to be right will help her as much or more than as a firm grasp of the nuances of the religion she was born into.
And with that all I can say is Cheers! Celebrate how and what you do!
Thank you Miss C for these fun questions. If anyone else wants to join link or comment your answers! The questions are in bold, my answers follow in normal.
Wanting something to quench your thirst, what would you drink? Water. I really really like good water at room temp, too cold is not desirable.
What made you feel good this past week? My very soft bed and making it up for spring.
When you’re alone at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot? Socks in the winter, barefoot in the summer (and half the winter but when I feel cold I hear my dad say “well put on some socks! and a sweater!”)
Would you rather live where it is always hot or always cold? hard one… can’t I have middle or seasons? I do enjoy my fall and spring best but I guess all other things equal I would take always hot since you can go outside more.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? Grateful for a community that plans fun events. I’m looking forward to Easter tomorrow and a mellow week and my mom visiting next week!
weather – snow pants in the morning, no coat by the afternoon
house – many things done
Easter prep – 45% we know what we are eating… none is in the house
Last week my mom shared on facebook a picture of Figolli an easter dessert traditional to Malta. While I’m 75% Irish, that other 25% is Maltese and I grew up with my mom’s family who kept many Maltese traditional alive. I even lived in Malta for a semester when I was 13, it was a good experience. One of my aunts made it her mission to make this dessert yearly and I was inspired to try to make it too.
The first step to Figolli (fig-oh-lee) is to skin the almonds. This is maybe why I didn’t make this in the past 20 years… getting the skins off almonds is tedious and I have plenty of memories of being the forced labor to get this done. We took 2 days to get them done but we all pitched in and I finished them up today while on the phone with my mom.
I googled directions and found many places that list them but they all seem to be the same. They also tend to be in metric and vague about method. The first few didn’t even have baking temps?!? In consultation with my aunt she recommended reducing the sugar, baking for 30-45 min at 375 and NOT using almond paste as a short cut.
Here is the recipe, and, my Americanized notes in italic- I’m glad I have a scale!
For the pastry:
- 400 grams butter or margarine – I used butter, this is 3.5 sticks
- 800 grams flour – I used bread flour (higher gluten) and it is apx 6 cups
- 200 grams sugar – I reduced! I used 184g that equals 1 cup
- 3 egg yolks – 3 egg yolks **I actually messed up and added the whites of one
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind – 2/3 of a lemon for me
- Water to mix – I used 2/3c
For the filling:
- 400 grams sugar – used same reduction to 1c
- 400 grams almonds – I didn’t get a different measure on this, just used the g setting.
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water – this is orange juice!!!
- 3 egg whites – 3 egg whites
My method is extrapolated from their scant directions, my recollection from 25 years ago, an aunt who replied to texts, and, general knowledge of baking. The idea is to make a big filled cookie so think ‘cookie dough’ for the pastry and ‘filling’ to get consistencies right.
- Cut butter into flour – I used my ninja blender.
- Add sugar, yolks, lemon. Mix well and slowly add water.
** I ended up mixing using my hand at the end to fully blend. This might have been easier in the kitchen aid.
- Set aside dough to rest while making the filling – I chilled
- chop almonds fine – I used the ninja blender. *warning! do in batches for 10 seconds or less or it turns to paste, you want chunks*
- Whip egg whites – there were no directions on how much so I did a quick mix to a froth
- Mix almonds, eggs, juice and sugar
Roll out the pastry in matching sets (top and bottom). I used sugar instead of flour to keep things from getting too sticky. I also rolled on parchment paper for easier transfer.
Add the filling to the bottom cookie and then put the top on and seal around the edge.
Put in the oven and hope for the best! While this was cooking the smell triggered so many memories I knew I had it right
Once it is firm and slightly brown it is done.
Allow to cool and decorate with royal icing~
(I wrote above this yesterday, this part today) While I was baking yesterday I decided to REALLY bake. I started my bread first and took the 2 hours of rise time to finish blanching the almonds. While the bread baked I did all the mixing so this is actually a quick recipe once you get the dumb almonds blanched. Then I still had a bunch of filling so I tossed it into a batch of breakfast muffins – to balance the recipe I added an extra cup of oats and cut out the oil. So by the end of the day I had a loaf of bread, 4 figollis, and 2 dozens muffins (and by the end I was putting things on the floor since I ran out of counters)
Today I cleaned it all up and I have a feeling Friday I’ll be doing another big kitchen day with easter eggs, decorating the figolli, and maybe some other fun things!