We had a lovely Easter morning. The girls came in separately to my bedroom with Easter baskets in hand at 3 and 3:15am. Elle was the first to come in and I suspect she woke up Maya. I heard her little feet patter in and with four year old exuberance said “My basket is full of things! The Easter Bunny has been. Look at my basket”. It was dark, and I was asleep, well I had been a moment ago, and so I said “Wonderful sweetie, put your basket back on your bed and go back to sleep until the morning”. While my words were sensible, the reality was that a few minutes later Maya also came into my room with her Easter basket in hand. Not with the same excitement Elle had, a six year old is a little more seasoned, but still she was excited. This time I reached for my phone to check the time. It was just past 3am. I had stayed up late working on their baskets and was feeling like more sleep. “Mummy, can we turn on our lamp and look at our baskets?” Maya asked. I could not see the answer “No” pleasing them, and so I said “Yes”. Their toadstool bedside lamp casts a gentle light and I thought it would be enchanting for them to sit in dim light and explore their surprises. After a short while of listening to them chatter I dragged myself out of bed to tend to them. When I walked into their room the two of them were both snuggled in Elle’s bed. They were laying there cuddling and chatting. Seeing them close, and loving, and sharing like this was heart warming. They are so lucky to have each other, to be sisters. It was one of the best moments of motherhood I have had. I have had many special times like this when I think of it, but something about it being the middle of the night, the gentle light and the air of excitement, made this a moment to cherish above others. I bent over and sprinkled them each with kisses and words of love, switched off the light. Back to sleep they went, side by side until dawn. When they were back in my room to wake me again…at 6am.
This time I rose straight away. It was light enough that I new it was a near reasonable hour in the morning. The sunrises was beautiful, casting a warm pink glow into the girls room. Elle went upstairs to the attic to wake Cam and Maya embarked on the bedroom egg hunt. When the Easter bunny fills the baskets she also hides dyed eggs around the bedroom. Maya filled her basket with dyed eggs as the sun filled the room with morning light. I curbed her enthusiasm briefly, saying that she needed to wait for Elle, then thought better of it. “Find them all, and then you can hide them again for your sister”. I reconciled.
I had put some effort into their Easter basket and they were really excited by what they found. Along with a pair of chocolate bunnies, we gave them some Maileg fabric mice and a tin suitcase and mouse bedbox. I made a bunch of miniature mouse clothes and bedding to put inside the suitcase. I also made them a cardboard mouse house, but kind of ruined it by painting it, so will have to make another one day. I was so disappointed, I went to all this effort with numerous nights work after they were asleep to build this cardboard mouse house and then ruined it when I painted it. Oh well. My husband was not sympathetic, “Why did you paint it? The cardboard looked better”. Well I don’t know why…because I like white…but it was not the best choice. I was using up left over house paint, and it was too heavy. Anyway. They enjoyed the mice and the clothes and Elle made a very cute clothes line from ribbon and pegged all the mouse clothes up with mini wooden pegs that I found when cleaning out Mum’s house last trip to Australia. Oh I love my creative girls and their precious play.
In addition to the chocolate bunnies and fabric mouse, they each got a pair of baby doll PJ’s for Summer. I bought these for less than half price from I Love Gorgeous last August, and have managed to save them hidden away all this time. This is part of my goal to not just buy them things any old time, but save things for special occasions – and when I do buy them things, buy things they adore. My friend Faith has inspired the art of selecting really lovely things. The old saying...have quality not quantity. They are the sweetest pajamas, cotton voile set with lace insertions and pin tucks. They are so cute they could wear them out to lunch – which is great because Maya and Elle like to stay in their pajamas all day! What else…a box of flowering bulbs to plant in the garden, and a bamboo and cotton fan – that was actually from my Mum and came with parasols she sent them. Now there is a funny story attached to these parasols, they almost tipped me over the edge the week before last, they had me in tears and my Mum talking about suicide. Yikes, I will spare you the eccentric blah blah blah details. They fell into my “Totally un-necessary…Don’t buy us things” rant that happens when my consumer conscious is rearing it’s ugly head. That aside, they are bamboo, and cotton and the girls really liked them. I have mentioned before wanting to join the (totally crazy) Brooklyn Parasol Society at Sakuara Matsuri, and so maybe now we will! The girls loved all the pretty little things. I felt like we gave them a lot, and I vowed that next year it will be less. It is a gradual process to be weaning them to less, but not make them feel like they are getting less or missing out. I wish I had been smarter and kept it simple a years ago.
Our neighbor’s twin girls who go to Maya’s school came over for an Easter egg hunt in our back yard. It was a perfect gentle Easter egg hunt – which is about all we could handle after the early morning excitement. I had fond memories of our Easter Party last year, but enjoyed keeping it simple this year given the Bathroom Renovation events. The girls found all the eggs and then re-hid them for the Dads to find. It was very cute watching the girls giggle and skip as Cam and Ken walked with Easter baskets in hand around our yard. Dads are so much fun and such good sports. By the time that was over, Elle was over tired and sensitive. We bid farewell to our neighbours and I sent everyone to bed to watch cartoons. Easter morning over, with a warm feeling of satisfaction welling in my heart.
They went to sleep with out a peep tonight! Easter eve is so very exciting. Sweet little voices called out, “Goodnight Mama, I love you”. To which I always reply “I love you”. None of the prolonged cuddles, or untucked sheets, or empty water bootles, tonight it was heads on pillows with sleep as soon as possible. We all remember that…the excitement of a surprise so great, sleep can’t come and go quick enough. Easter is so very special for little ones. So lucky to be the Easter bunny, so very lucky to be their Mummy. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter eve and a joyous Easter day.
When our girls grow up and remember their childhood Easters, they will likely think of wheatgrass. Similarly, when our girls grow up and drink wheatgrass, they will likely think of Easter. We are a little wheatgrass crazy this time of year, can’t get enough of the gorgeous green stuff. I started growing wheatgrass for Easter a couple of years ago after Maya came home with a wheatgrass easter basket from her Waldorf Playgroup in Brooklyn. Maya’s wonderful playgroup teacher Kristin prepared little wheatgrass baskets for each of the children for Spring Equinox. Everything about it resonated with me and so the following year I decided to carry on the tradition with Maya’s kindergarten class in Montclair. Maya had left the playgroup and was at Edegmont Public Montessori Kindergarten, and so I made 25 wheatgrass Easter baskets, one for each in her class. The project was a success and I wanted to do it with Maya’s class again this year. Her 1st grade class was a new mix of children, and so some had done this project in Kindergaten and some had not. To make the project a little different – and to make it a little more environmentally friendly, this year instead of buying bamboo baskets, I used milk cartons out of the recycling. The children collected the milk cartons after lunch one day at school (The school really should be serving organic milk- I need to work on that!). I took the cartons home and washed them, and cut the top portion off. I then drew up a decorative border image that the children coloured and pasted around the milk carton. I prepared the wheatgrass and watered the wheatgrass – it takes some love. The containers looked so cute sitting on our sunroom sills. A week later I returned the cartons to the children on the day of Easter break. Oh what a joy!
The waxed paper milk cartons worked really well because they are water resistant and held well with the soil and water. The class responded as a whole to the project better this year because they got to decorate the container. They loved it last year too, but this year there was a greater sense of excitement. When I arrived with the basket full of wheatgrass they all ran to the table to locate their milk carton. The milk carton was more personalised than a bamboo basket, and so it connected with the children. Their faces were glowing and Maya’s teacher Mrs Hart said “You have created a hub” and as I looked around the room, the children all had their wheatgrass in hand, and were excitedly chatting and sharing. It felt so good to do this simple thing for them.
I also grew wheatgrass for a window display at a local boutique. I had a few bamboo baskets left over from the Boutique order and so Maya gave each of her classroom teachers a wheatgrass gift basket. We grew some and gave it to our neighbors, and we grew a lot for our house! It seems like we have wheatgrass around every corner. Having the house full of green is refreshing after many many months of cold grey winter. The colour therapy does wonders to lift the spirits. I also really enjoy tending the wheatgrass, It awakens the dorment gardener.
After growing so much wheatgrass over the years, I have the process down pat, I learnt how to grow it from watching a wheatgrass you-tube tutorial. I advise to watch it a few times and don’t take short cuts. Wheatgrass likes lots of water. I water mine often because our house is very dry with the cold weather heaters still on. I purchased organic wheatgrass seed, or wheatberries as they call them from the Sprout House. They are inexpensive to buy and go a long way. I generally soak 1 cup of wheatgrass seed at a time and it makes a lot of wheatgrass.
Having the wheatgrass sitting around has meant we have been eating it too. Elle has started making banana wheatgrass smoothies. Wheatgrass is best juiced, but if you put it in the blender with some water it will desiccate fine enough to drink. Elle likes to use the scissors and snip away at the wheatgrass, then she puts it in the blender with some apple juice. I stand with her while she operates the blender. Once the wheatgrass and apple juice are finely blended, she adds a banana and an ice cube. Then blends again. This makes a sweet green smoothie that she drinks entirely on her own. A perfect four year old activity. Smoothies are a great way to enjoy greens, and it makes growing the wheatgrass holistic, instead of just ornamental.
Once again I apologise for not posting this easter tradition sooner, I should have started posting about the wheatgrass weeks ago…you can keep it in mind for next year, or maybe you want to grow it and drink it. Either way, I hope you can enjoy wheatgrass with us!
My goodness, Easter is upon us and here I am doing my first Easter post. I apologize for not getting to this sooner, but you still have time my friends to make natural dye and colour eggs before Easter Sunday! This was our first time making our own dye and colouring eggs naturally. I have purchased natural dye in the past, or just used artificial dye, such as here and here. This year I wanted to extend myself. Part of my personal shift to honor the environment and increase my earth friendly ways. This year natural dyed eggs was a number one activity on my Easter project list. Oh how rewarding it was! It feels like this will be an annual part of our Easter celebration. I enjoyed the process (although our house smelt like I was making sauerkraut) and adore the results. Our Easter eggs are just gorgeous.
I did a little research on the web, and generally everyone was using the same things to create natural dyes. The best results seemed to be with red cabbage, turmeric, beetroot, and onion skins. There were a few other things to try also, but I felt like for our first time making natural dye, this was enough. I also tried blackberries, but did not see the result I was expecting and so I combined the beetroot and blackberry dye mixtures.
I added enough water to cover eggs in a medium pot and boiled each item, with the eggs. I figured the egg boiling in the solution would help enhance the effects. I boiled the eggs for 12 minutes. I then strained the solution into small glass jars. I added a tablespoon of white vinegar to each jar, and let the eggs soak individually one egg per jar. Some eggs sat in the solution for hours, and some of the eggs sat over night. I dyed some without boiling the eggs in the solution, but I made sure the eggs went straight from the boil, while they were still very hot, into the solution. I think hot eggs take in more dye.
When removing the eggs, you have to be careful not to damage the dye coating, it forms a very thin film over the egg and if you let it be, it dries, and you obtain the richer colour. This part is really important to achieve eggs like mine. I used a spoon to take them out of the solution and then lay then gently on paper towel and did not touch them until they were dry. If you smudge or wash the eggs, you will have mottled or light coloured eggs. I washed one, but did not like it so much. This I learnt from trial and error. You can see that some of mine are touched and bumped, smudged or washed and some are not.
The red cabbage makes the most dramatic transformation. If the egg is left to sit for a long period of time it creates a rich, deep blue, which is really a lovely colour. I boiled the outer half of a small cabbage. The turmeric makes a lively sulfur yellow. I used 4 tablespoon of turmeric. I can’t get enough of the yellow and blue together. The red onion made a reddish brown, and the beetroot made pale pinkish lavender. I used only two onion skins and only one small beetroot. Maybe with a more intense solution the colours would have been richer. I just used what I already had in the fridge. We used both brown and white eggs to achieve colour variety. The dye colour of the white eggs are more vibrant, while the brown eggs give muted tones.
I am really happy with these earthy hues, I could not have achieved these gorgeous colours with store bought dye. I love that the process taught the girls about making and mixing natural dyes from things right out of our fridge and cupboard. Elle created this beautiful center piece for our table with wheatgrass, eggs, moss and clover. We are so inspired, and so very glad Spring is here!
Natural Dye Reference
Blue: Red Cabbage
Reddish Brown: Red Onion Skin
Pinkish Lavender: Beetroot
This time last week we were celebrating Spring with an Easter party. I invited the families in our street with small children and some of our friends. We could not have asked for a nicer day, the sun shone brightly, and our Easter party was lovely in so many ways. I decorated the dogwood tree in our back yard with ribbons and flowers, we made fresh flower crown wreaths, and many brought dyed eggs, filling the giant basket for the egg hunt. We played pin the tail on the bunny, and had an egg and spoon relay race with both parents and children. We played duck duck goose, and enjoyed a small feast of great home made food. The children had a blast, and all looked so adorable.
It was exciting for our family to host a Spring celebration, it made me feel content and settled. Growing up my family would gather to celebrate Easter and I have fond memories of Easter being a lot of fun. Grandma would dye eggs for an egg hunt, and make chocolate bunnies for each of her children. The fireplace seat in the family room would have a long line of Easter baskets that would magically be filled on Easter morning with goodies. We would wear our best clothes, have a large elaborate meal and play games.
With our family now on the other side of the world, more often than not during holiday times we are unable to be with them. Non the less I hoped to make Easter into a special occasion for our children, and a party with friends was a great way to make it memorable. I wanted it to be symbolic of Spring, to be colourful and lively, and I wanted to share it with people we care about.
It will be great to look back at these photos in years to come. We feel lucky to be living in a street with so many little ones, always right there ready and able to play! I am grateful especially to our neighbour Nina who was a tremendous help setting up…and to my husband who made this party possible…and to my daughters who are a continual source of inspiration. I just loved it when Maya filled her wheat grass basket with flowers and hung it on the tree…Elle then had to do it too. Our creative girls…always making beautiful things.
Our day wound down, bit by bit neighbours left, and then friends, until it was just us, sitting in the yard. The girls building fairy houses out of shells, pebbles and the left over flowers…and I, sitting still…in that special quiet space after a party where I get the reward of a resonating heartfelt feeling…from a wonderful celebration.