Natural egg dyes, braided bread, lemon shortbread and other good ideas for Easter

lemon shortbread with lemon marmalade

My Easter plans are a little slow in forthcoming this year as I’ve been distracted by our forays into making maple syrup – our newest urban homesteading project. Look for a full post from Danny soon on our backyard sugar bush adventures later; we’re giddy with our progress.

Easter is a fantastic excuse to entertain and I will definitely be gathering a few friends and family around for brunch or lunch. The boys and I had a chance to bake cookies in adorable little bunny and chick shapes and make the thumbprint shortbread cookies above.

The rest of the menu will be inspired from the archives and a few old favorites I rediscovered when putting together this round-up. Of course, maple syrup will be the spotlight ingredient of the brunch.

Perhaps you’ll find an idea or two below for your Easter table.

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Clara turns one {recipe: Apple Spice Cake with Maple}

apple cake for baby birthday

Clara turned one yesterday, and after seven years of robot cakes, Cars pinatas, and Lego gifts, we celebrated our very first ‘girl’ birthday. There were spring flowers and garlands of pink hearts, cucumber sandwiches and strawberry cake, and the cutest little guests decked out in hair bows and pretty dresses.

Clara’s birthday party felt like not only a celebration of her first year and the bright light that she is in our lives, but a lingering farewell to infancy. I can see it plainly now, she’s ready to be a little lady, whether I’m prepared for it or not.

In the days leading up to the party, I keenly felt this milestone and the significance of it. While she was busy demonstrating her newest skill set to me, I was having flashbacks to the day she was born and the intimacy between a mother and her newborn.

first birthday party ideas on simplebites.net

I needed to say good-bye to those precious early days that I cherish so much. I needed to spend a few hours cutting hearts out of paper and stringing them onto garlands while I mourned the end of baby baths in the sink, cozy afternoon naps on my chest, and teeny, teeny pink sleepers.

I blinked back tears when I frosted the layers of her cake, and let them flow freely when I hung newborn images of her in a garland; photos where she was so tiny, she rested comfortably between my shoulder and the crook of my arm. I sighed when I cut cucumber sandwiches into hearts, and eventually made my peace with the milestone.

By Sunday, her actual birthday, I was ready to party. So, apparently, was she.

First birthday ideas on simplebites.net

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Traveling in Mexico: What we ate (Recipe: Guacamole Deviled Eggs)

Guacamole deviled eggs

I feel like I got the more technical information off my chest in my last post on traveling with kids in Mexico; so now we can get down to the really good stuff: food! I’m dying to talk taco and tequila, as we ate and drank our fair share during our two week stay. It’s kind of what our family does when we get together.

As I explained to Tsh in a recent Homefries podcast, my siblings and I bond best in the kitchen. We’re a family who cooks together, then sits down around a table to continue the conversation.

Here’s a look at how we ate, and a few recommendations for our favorite places in and around Lo de Marcos and Sayulita.

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Winter Sangria with citrus & pomegranate

This year we have two parties leading up to New Year’s, then a blissful clear calendar on the 31st. I’m so looking forward to a non-hyped quiet night in, especially after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The visiting -and feasting- has been wonderful, and I’ve been thrilled to host out-of-town family for a week, but Danny and I are very ready to put our feet up and exhale in a quiet house.

Last year we organized to have baby sitter, then bundled up (why is NYE always freezing?) and had a great evening out with friends, but I’m hesitant to leave Clara this year – or maybe I’m just using her as an excuse to stay in! Either way, we’re staying cozy this New Year’s Eve.

Danny’s stashed a bottle of champagne for midnight and I’m planning fondue for two and mini tourtière hand pies. In the meantime, though, we’ll be sipping on a dark and fruity winter sangria and nibbling maple spiced nuts as the hours count down.

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Merry Christmas from all of us

I lost track of time in the kitchen yesterday, cooking and baking with my visiting sister, while a stream of bright-eyed children, frisky canines, and hungry uncles passed through looking for handouts.

We boiled fresh Maritime lobster and folded it into buttered linguine, simmered a boeuf bourguignon for half a day, whisked together eggnog, and built a gingerbread house! As the snow continued to fall among the trees outside, I couldn’t help but stop to reflect on my many blessings and the joy of the season.

As we’re all whipping around with an apron tied on today, I’ll keep this post short and sweet. We couldn’t let the holidays pass without wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas.

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