Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Easter!

He is risen, Alleluia! We have been having too much fun eating candy, watching movies and playing to blog lately. While Easter Sunday was a few days ago, today is Easter Wednesday, so technically my greetings are right on time. Here are some shots of the big morning after a beautiful 7:00 am Mass:

Everything was ready on the bay window for when the kids woke up, a long standing tradition in our home. Yep, all 2 years we've been living here.

Bean checking out her new "Jesus movie".

Pal got a jet basket from Grammy and Pop-pop. He looks pretty sweet in those aviators.

Bean's was a dress-up basket. Anything pink and sparkly still makes this future astronaut and dinosaur expert happy.

Of course we searched for eggs. This year I filled some of them with little fuzzy chicks (you can see some of them lined up on the bay window in the first picture), which the kids were more excited about than the candy. They thought is was hilarious!

Next came brunch, the decorations turned out nice!

We filled our chocolate crown of thorns with eggs to turn it into a nest. It's already gone.

And a quick shot of brunch. Yum, really yum.

But the party hasn't stopped there, as we celebrate the whole Octave. The first time I did this was during  the semester I took off in college to do mission work in Argentina. I was living in an orphanage with the Servidoras who have "Pasquetta" (little Easter) parties each night. They were fantastically fun and filled with dancing, sweets and skits. 

We've had friends over for dessert, we've watched Easter movies, like Veggies Tales An Easter Carol, we've made resurrection rolls, we've eaten at Chick-fil-a, we've played with our Resurrection Eggs, we've had numerous Easter egg hunts by re-hiding our eggs over and over... and we're only half way there!

I hope you are enjoying Easter as much as we are!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday

It's Holy Saturday, which means Easter is tomorrow! I don't know about you, but I'm really excited!!

Today we, like millions of people across the world, dyed Easter eggs.

Concentrating Pal.

Bean's "friends" helping out.

We used rubber bands to make stripes and crosses. 

The ever so important adding of the stickers.

We also made holders for them by cutting up the cartons, gluing two of the cups back to back and painting them with craft paint. I think they will look nice with our centerpiece tomorrow.

After this we headed to our church for an Easter food blessing and an Easter egg hunt. The kids gathered the eggs, but we told them they can't open them until tomorrow. Seriously, these kids have so much to look forward to and to do tomorrow!

They don't really hunt for the eggs, as you can see... it's more like a scramble.

No parents allowed in the tent. (Notice the jackets--they moved the "hunt" inside the tent because it was snowing today!) Bean is in the back right thanks to the advice of her father to rush to the back because everyone else with start up front. Good advice, good advice.

Pal with his loot.

Afterwards we tried to get a good picture with Fr. Peter, a difficult task because Pal is pretty sure he is a superhero and would rather talk with him.

This is the best we could do.

What's left for the day is making Easter Story Cookies, which use ingredients to tell the passion story. Then you put them in the heated oven, turn the oven off and go to bed. In the morning there is a sweet surprise... hallow (empty tomb) cookies! It is pretty ingenious and I wish I knew who created them because they are really cool.

I'm off to make overnight chocolate french toast and quiche for tomorrow's brunch after mass!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

It has been a wonderful, reflective Good Friday in the Cotter home.

For breakfast we had the hot cross buns I made yesterday. We kept the frosting off of them for now, but what we didn't eat this morning will be frosted for Easter brunch.

Here's Bean enjoying one. In front of her is the back of the Last Supper craft she made yesterday. The disciples have been eating with us ever since.

We also started on another of Catholic Icing's Easter printables, a resurrection scene. We will use it
throughout these next few days to act out the stories of our Lord's death and resurrection. When we prayed the stations at noon today (using our stations box) the kids put Jesus on the cross...

and then after we came home from the passion service we took him down and laid Him in the tomb...

I bet you can guess what will happen on Easter Sunday!

After the passion service, in keeping with the tradition of many churches, we shrouded the images of Jesus in our home with purple cloth. This serves to remind us that we have entered into a solemn time as we await the resurrection of our Lord. The kids love this tradition of going on a "Jesus hunt". We will uncover all of the images on Easter morning with great joy!

We also made our traditional chocolate crown of thorns. The challenge is to not lick any chocolate off your fingers! On Easter we will fill the crown with eggs and turn it into a nest, symbolizing new life, and then thoroughly enjoy the treat. It's just pretzel sticks and chocolate almond bark, 2 squares does the trick.

Finally, today begins the Divine Mercy Novena. This is a particularly special year to take part in this devotion as Pope John Paul II will become a Blessed on Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter), which he officially instituted!

Unlike other novenas this one is not said for a personal intention, but for the intention of others. The prayer and novena intentions were given to St. Faustina from Jesus himself. He said to her "On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls." You can find the prayers and intentions here at EWTN.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Keeping Holy Thursday Holy

The Triduum is here, which means Easter is around the corner! These next three days are the most holy days in the Church, so I am always looking for ways to make that reality come alive. Here is what we are up to today.

This morning we made Easter napkin ring holders for the Easter table. They are made in much the same way as the holly napkin rings and turkey napkin rings we made for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

We also made unleavened bread to have with grape juice for dinner tonight to remind us of the Last Supper which we remember today. Check out this post for directions.

After naps the kids and I will be making this last supper scene from Catholic Icing. You can download the printables on her site.

We will also make hot cross buns for breakfast tomorrow, which is a long standing tradition in the Church.

Finally we will be heading to church tonight for Holy Thursday services. If you have never taken part in the Triduum services, I highly recommend them. They are full of beauty and meaning that sets the mood for celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ.

Blessings to you on the end of this Lenten journey!

Holy Thursday Unleavened Bread

Today on Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, we commemorate the Last Supper where Jesus institutes the Eucharist by giving us His body and blood in the forms of bread and wine.

While we don't celebrate a full Seder or Passover Meal at the Cotter home, we will be having unleavened bread and grape juice at dinner to remind us of this sacred gift. (When we were first married, we went out on Holy Thursday with some friends to a middle eastern restaurant to eat lamb which was pretty cool).

This recipe would not be a recipe you could use for communion bread because it has a few more ingredients than wheat flour and water, but for our purposes as a Last Supper reminder it works great.

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 5 T. butter 
  • 4-5 T. milk

Step 1: Mix all of the dry ingredients.

Step 2: Cut in the butter with a pastry blender.

Step 3: Mix in the milk, until the dough is moist. You will need to use your hands towards the end.

Step 4: Roll dough onto a flour surface to 1/4 inch thickness.

Step 5: Bake in over at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Doesn't it look nice on my tray accented with grapes? Very fitting!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Lamb Name Cards

It's Holy Week and I love it. Because FOCUS is awesome Kevin's Easter respite begins tomorrow, which means we really get to experience and live the Triduum. 

As usual Bean and I have been crafting some special decor for the holiday table. Tonight's feature is our lamb name cards. Sure it will just be the four of us for Easter this year, but I still love putting special touches on the table.

Lambs are a traditional Christian symbol for two reasons. First we refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God because by the sacrifice of His very self on the cross he takes away our sins. Second because He is the Good Shepard who watches over us, His sheep.

To make these fluffy little reminders for your Easter table gather the following:

  • White card stock 
  • Blue card stock (or any color you prefer)
  • Black construction paper
  • Cotton balls
  • Clothes pins
  • Googley eyes
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Step 1: Cut out a sheep body and head from your paper

Step 2: Glue 4-6 cotton balls on your sheep body. Leave a spot on the top left corner for the head.

Step 3: Glue the head to the corner of the body.

Step 4: Add some googley eyes.

Step 5: Flip your sheep over and glue two clothes pins on the back with the clipping side at the top.

Step 6: Cut out rectangles from the blue paper and put your guest's names on them. Clip them to your sheep and you are set!

Throughout the process of sheep making Pal began cracking up at himself for several minutes. It took me a while to realize that while I assumed he was playing with clothes pins, he actually had affixed googley eyes to his dog "Blue Blue". This was as funny as he thought.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mexi Bowls

About a week ago three friends and my sister had babies in an 11 day span. Two of them live a mile away, so I made a triple batch of one of our favorite meals to take to them. I'm always on the look out for easy meals that can be taken to friends, so I thought I'd share this one.

Mexi Bowls are a Cotter original and the result of my obsession with black beans and corn. One night I started dumping things that seemed good together into a skillet and viola, Mexi Bowls. You can put this mixture over rice, on a bed of lettuce, on a pile of tortilla chips or you can stuff it in a flour tortilla and make a burrito. I usually melt cheese on top and garnish with black bean and corn salsa.

Todays team players are:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey (or beef)
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning and water according to the packets directions
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
  • Rice for serving over
  • Shredded cheese and salsa for garnishing

Step 1: Brown the turkey, then add the bell peppers and onions. Cover and stir occasionally until the onion begins to turn opaque.

Step 2: Add the taco seasoning and as much water as the packet says to add, then mix it all together.

Step 3: Rinse the black beans and corn, then add them to the mix.

Step 4: Let simmer until the sauce thickens.

Step 5: Serve over rice (shown), lettuce or tortilla chips, or wrap in a flour tortilla. Garnish with cheese and/or salsa.

For delivery I put them in a big disposable foil pan thing. I believe that is what you should ask the grocery store clerk if you are looking for one.

I divided the pan by putting the rice in regular foil and then sticking it in the pan, the mixture just went on the other side. 

Finally, I put some cheese in a baggie and salsa in disposable Tupperwear making the meal ready for delivery!

P.S. The brownies didn't go to my favorite friend, it's just that my other friend is gluten free.