Sunday, March 31, 2013

40DOT: Days 35-40

[My sisters and me at Eastertimes of the past.]

Happy Easter! Looking at those photos had me thinking about how we celebrated Easter day growing up. Despite celebrating in various locations over the years(home, grandparents' homes, camping...), we did have some morning traditions that we mostly kept no matter where we were. One tradition was that my parents (or the Easter Bunny, more accurately!) would hide our Easter baskets. I always thought this was the usual thing, but I guess many parents just present the baskets to their kids like stockings from Santa. I don't know if it was a tradition for my mom's family or my dad's, but they adopted it into ours and I always enjoyed looking for my baskets (usually three). We always got one of those hollow chocolate bunnies, and there was something really special about that particular candy staring at me through the plastic window. But now I don't even think I like that type of chocolate (What is that brand? I can't remember.), but kids aren't very picky. Each bunny had a different name and had some different feature: a bow, a little sunshine, etc.

It was my paternal grandma and grandpa who would hide plastic eggs with money (coins) outside in the backyard. So that wasn't an every-year sort of thing, but definitely a good tradition that my sister does with her kids, now. When we were home, we'd dress up in special Easter clothes for church. Pastels! And as a teen, I used to help with a pancake breakfast, forcing me to get up at around 4:30am so we could have pancakes ready for the people coming down the hill from sunrise service.

Easter is definitely one of those holidays that has me missing the good times with my family, because it's so rare for me to spend it with them anymore. And some years it's been particularly hard when the weather here in Oregon has been super dreary. But this year (and last year) it is cloudless and sunny, like it should be. It definitely makes the day more joyful.

This afternoon I actually have a college graduation portrait shoot! I'm glad to have a fun outdoor activity that will keep me from wondering why I still live here. :) I'm looking forward to showing you some of the photos, if she gives me permission. Wish me luck with that, as I have many ideas that I hope to pull off well.

What were some of your Easter traditions growing up?

And now that I've written a book about Easter, let me finish up my 40 Days of Thankfulness.

Day 35 (March 25): Wow...this wasn't my favorite day. It was hard for me to find good things to mention, but I was glad to still have a clean apartment after my party the weekend before. I left my decorations up and things were cheery around my place.

Day 36 (March 26): Continuing on with dreary days, this was another. I was just feeling very irritated, frustrated and distracted these two days. But! I got an Easter card from Mom, who is so good at sending me cards for the holidays. And it's nice that I have a laid-back coworker/officemate who puts up with me on my grouchier days. Oh and Dania got me started on this phone game Mini Golf Match Up, which has brought me much entertainment this past week. This day was the first day when I played a lot of it and was completely hooked.

Day 37 (March 27): I felt a lot better this day--more like myself. I was more productive, too! When I got home, I saw that I had received a fun package from Dania! I also got a nice note from Pami. I love fun mail! On my way home from work there was a very vibrant rainbow. A double-rainbow, actually, but of course the second one was faint. I didn't take any pictures, though.

Day 38 (March 28): I failed to write anything down on this day. I know it was fine, because I usually like Thursdays. I did laugh at a funny typo, so that was a cheerful part of my morning. :)

Day 39 (March 29): This day was another of my unfavorites, but I did make some really delicious chili that I've been enjoying this weekend. And there were some other positive things that I don't feel like telling the world. Oh, but I did redesign my blog a little, although I'm not sure how long I'll be keeping it. It's just an idea, but I need to add some more info so people better know what this blog is about.

Day 40 (March 30): Yay for being the last day of 40 days! Not that I haven't enjoyed this, but I've had a hard time posting anything else, and there's lots to say! This day was SO sunny. I even had my sliding glass door open part of the time. I went to the good Target and lined up a portrait session. I began to get excited and inspired about it! In general, I was feeling good and healthy. And I made the above pork stir fry.

Have a great Easter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sugar cookies with buttercream frosting

Here is the recipe for the cookies and frosting I made for my party last weekend. I got this recipe from my friend Serena, who adapted it from a recipe on They're so good--nice and soft. I'll just paste everything in her words...

Best Sugar Cookies Ever

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour milk (add 1 T of vinegar to regular milk and let sit for 5 minutes)
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together 4 cups flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in baking soda, sour milk, beaten eggs, and vanilla. Stir as little as possible, and add the remaining flour as necessary to make dough thick enough to roll out.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool on baking sheets.

Buttercream Frosting for Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
8 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Food coloring can be added, but if the frosting is too watery, add more confectioner's sugar.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Deepwood Estate

Hey, it's that time of year again! I went to Deepwood Estate on Sunday. This was my first time this year, and I'll probably be there several more times to watch as things grow and change. No apologies (yet) for my many hummingbird and flower photos...

Can you spot both woodpeckers?

A Northern Flicker, I believe.

Wow, others are allowed to eat the fruit? Seems a little rude that not all are welcome.

Monday, March 25, 2013

40DOT: Day 34 - Spring party

Here are the promised photos from Saturday. Seven of my friends came over for girl time (Woman time? That sounds weird.) and to celebrate spring and Easter. We decorated cookies, dyed eggs, and ate snacks. The weather was pretty nice and the girls were wonderful guests. Thanks again for coming, ladies!

Pretty prep

Cool, huh? My dad got me this pitcher.

I forgot to take pictures of the food and drink stations before we started, so you're getting a picture of the remaining food, instead. I had been craving those little quiches and had to check three stores to find them. I thought I'd serve them fancily by just leaving them on the cookie sheet. I'm very elegant.

I got some spring prizes and then drew names to decide the order that the girls could choose what they wanted.

All parties need chocolate, right? And I found those color snaps for a buck a pack, and thought I'd include them for egg decoration fun. They're kind of like markers for eggs.

Cookie decorating (and tasting).

Pami pretends to test out the frosting.

I was impressed with how lovely all the cookies and eggs turned out! So creative.

Deborah did this Easter scene! Are those tiny sheep? I just noticed!

We came up with alternate ideas for the various shapes. Like the bunny that could also be a fish, according to Jennifer. Or an awareness ribbon, according to Pami (where is my photo of that?).

Tulips also make good Pacman ghosts.


The egg-dyeing brought out just as much creativity. It worked out to be about half and half with how many of us grew up dyeing eggs every Easter vs. those who didn't. I'm always surprised to learn when adults have only done it once or twice (or never!), since it was a tradition in our house, and one I really enjoyed. I guess I thought everyone did it! What about you: did you grow up dyeing eggs for Easter?

Nice work, Jennifer. He's hot!

Beautiful. And it was Natalie's idea to flip over the carton for an egg-drying rack. Very clever!

A little chill time for those who were done decorating/dyeing.

Pami, my ever-cooperative model, humors me with various expressions.

I regret not taking a group photo before everyone left, but then I always have photography regrets, and I try not to dwell on them. :) Otherwise, I'm glad I have a record of the day. Happy spring and Easter season! What are you doing to celebrate?


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