The cherry blossoms and magnolias are blooming, all this rain has given us the gift of lush green lawns (and allergies). It is a perfect time to uncover the patio furniture and enjoy an Easter celebration outside. Spring cleaning is in order. Out with the old and in with the new. Refresh your home with new table linens from or a fresh coat of citrus green paint in the kitchen or dining room. If paint is too much of a commitment, throw pillows or patio chair cushions in vibrant colors of the season can do the trick.
Invite friends and family, especially kids, and throw an egg-decorating party. Serve sweet pastries with seasonal fruit, cocktails, a dry rose wine, sweet tea or lemonade. Whenever holiday crafts present themselves, it is an opportunity to be creative and enjoy those moments of child-like abandon.
To kick the party off, create personalized place mats for your guests. Use a fabric or permanent marker to write guests' names on each place mat. Buy white cotton place mats (or just white paper mats for a simpler version), fabric paint and stencils. For greener decorating, use hammered flowers. Arrange flowers on top of the place mat and cover with an index card. Tap gently with a hammer. Remove index card and discard flowers.
Then onto the party. Depending on the number of guests buy several egg decorating kits, cups, dippers, etc. and place them along the length of the table (usually two or three people per set up). There are many different types of egg-decorating kits and different techniques as well. A variety of kits are available at , and in Manchester, as well as in Town and Country.
One of the best decorations I have made, was taught to me by my sister (which I also found on marthastewart.com):
- Make two holes in shell, lengthwise, one at the top and one at the bottom. My sister and I used sewing needles to poke the holes and blew out the egg with our mouths (do not try this at home kids). Now there are safer methods. Egg blowers are available at craft stores. Use the pin to pierce the yolk and membranes and mix the inside of the egg (this makes it easier to remove the egg from the shell). Expel the content of the egg. Rinse the shell and dry. Write messages or names on the shells with white crayon, and then dye them with food coloring; let dry.
- Cut a 15-inch length of seam-binding ribbon and fold in half; create hanging loops by knotting the folded end of the ribbon 2 inches from top. Thread ribbon ends through a beading needle, and use needle to draw the double-stranded ribbon through each egg and a wood bead. Tie knots in ribbon to secure beads; trim ribbon ends, and hang ornaments from branches.
- Follow the basic instructions on your egg decorating kits and decorate to your heart's content, using your artistic flair and imagination.
Parties like this create memories for kids that resonate throughout their lives. Making decorations is much more special than just buying them.
Of course, you can't have an Easter party with out a delicious dessert. Spring is a wonderful time to make strawberry shortcake, fruit tarts and lemon squares. Whole Foods in Town and Country sells beautiful tarts if you are not inclined to make them. Whole Foods, Dierbergs, Straub's and Schnucks have a great selection of fruit for your sweet creations.
Super Lemony Lemon Squares
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 stick butter, cut in pieces
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
nonstick cooking spray
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice, strained
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 lemon zest, grated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a 9-inch square baking pan (brownie pan) with foil. Let foil extend about 1 inch above two sides of the pan, so you can pull it out when it is done. Spray inside with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine flower, sugar and salt. Cut in butter (like making pie dough) until mix resembles sand, add vanilla and process until mix comes together. A processor can be used, if you prefer.
- Press into square baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Whisk eggs and sugar to mix
- Whisk in lemon juice, then flour
- Strain, then add zest.
- Reduce temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pour filling over hot crust.
- Bake until filling is set, about 20 minutes.
- Cool on rack. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Cut into squares.