Hot Cross Buns

~ My very last late Easter post. I think. ~

In my Good Friday post, I mentioned the Hot Cross Buns “we” made as a family.

Meaning “we” stirred the bowl a couple of times and sprinkled the yeast and set the dough to rise…

and then when the kids were asleep I did the real work, adding the tastiest ingredients (sugar, cinnamon and raisins), rolling the buns, setting them to rise again, baking them, and finally, icing them.

I’m sure that, with experience, I will be able to make these with little thought, but the effort and concentration I had to pour into them as a pioneer bun-maker made me very nervous about the finished product: “What if they taste gross?” I thought, “and I’ve made all this ado and spent all this time for no reason…”

But I should have known Pioneer Woman wouldn’t let me down. Her recipe was DELICIOUS, even if I accidentally turned the oven off after I put them in to bake and didn’t realize it for 10 minutes. (This perhaps resulted in my buns being a little flat, but they were still pretty, and most importantly, scrumptious).

I plan on never celebrating an Easter weekend without these Hot Cross Buns. To find the recipe, click here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/04/hot-cross-buns/

The children peek around the corner waiting to see their Easter baskets and our finished buns…

Our simple breakfast table…

my “special” Hot Cross Buns, a little on the flat side…

I promise I didn’t have my eyes open during the prayer. But my camera might have….

I love a new tradition, don’t you? I hope you find room in your recipe book and in your Easter weekend for Hot Cross Buns.

~

And while I’m at it, let me just tell you one last time…Happy Easter! 

Easter Sunday, 2012

TGIGF.

~ a remembrance of Good Friday 2012 ~

Easter continues to evolve for our family.

You guys know how I feel about holidays. I was the young wife who innocently hung skeleton lanterns in the apartment window of our seminary that had a no-Halloween policy. I start planning for Christmas the day after Halloween. I painted my house white so it would match every season. I have a huge tub of supplies and decorations for each major holiday of the year…

And so I absolutely adore Easter as we know it in America. The eggs…the pastel colors…the celebration of Springtime…the candy…the baskets…bunnies and chicks and soft little critters…pretty dresses…bonnets…pearls…jello salads with mystery ingredients…

I. LOVE. IT.

Love it.

If you remember, though, this type of Easter had begun to encroach on our Resurrection morning in the peskiest of ways and so I swiftly moved it to Saturday.

We’ll observe Good Friday, I thought to myself, and then while we’re waiting on Jesus to raise from the dead, we’ll have some Fake Easter fun!

But after this year’s monumental observance of Good Friday, I’m afraid that even more Easter change is a’coming next year.

~

We started the day by making the dough for Hot Cross Buns. The children loved helping me sprinkle the  yeast and flour on our mixture of scalded milk, butter and oil, and then coming back an hour later to see how it had magically risen. As I prepared this very homemade and simple treat for my family, I thought about the cross….

I thought, especially, about the friends of Jesus who really had NO idea who He really was and what was really about to happen to their world.

I thought about my failings and how I would probably have done worse things than betray Him on the morning of His death…I would probably have never followed to begin with.

I thought about how I haven’t done one silly piddly little thing to deserve the life I’ve been blessed with.

I thought about the unmerited grace and kindness of the Creator of the universe who could snuff my life out in an instant but instead lets me make Hot Cross buns on a beautiful Spring day with all the windows and doors open…

As the morning ticked by, Mr. Gore and I off-handedly discussed what traditions we might employ to help our children (and us) really observe Good Friday in the future. As the mother of preschoolers, I spend a lot of time thinking about our family holidays and rituals, antsy to formulate our traditions now before these little birdies grow up and fly the coop.

“We could wear black all day…” I suggested, thinking back to old traditions of mourning and observing the memories of lost loved ones. My mind was thinking ahead to next year and how we could make this happen, wondering whether or not Janie and Jack would have any pretty black dresses for my girls…they have a wedding line…maybe by next year they would have a funeral line! (What?! One never knows…)

“Yeah…” Mr. Gore murmured, and then abruptly stood up and yelled outside “Hey kids! We’re going to wear black ALL day to help us remember that Jesus died on the cross for us today.”

“Today?” I thought skeptically, “this wasn’t really in my holiday planner…“, but seeing my children’s immediate excitement over the idea, I threw my uppity plans out the window and bounded up the stairs to see what we could find.

Black jersey shorts for Gideon and a black tee-ball t-shirt. A black dress for Rebekah with white polka dots. Mr. Gore had a black t-shirt and navy blue shorts. And, lucky me, my favorite lounging outfit (that Mr. Gore has lovingly/hatefully dubbed my “ninja costume”) made of flowy bamboo fabric is black from neck to ankle.

We shed our normal clothes and dressed in black, every one of us.

It is absolutely unreal what this simple observance did to make Good Friday actually mean something to us. The children were so willing to wear these clothes for Jesus – as we dressed them, it was obvious that, while there was a measure of fun and/or novelty to our actions, it actually symbolized something to them. And for me…my gosh, everytime I looked down and saw the black of my outfit, I thought of Him. Everytime I walked outside and worried that the neighbors would think I was a slob in my black stretch clothes, I thought of Him. Everytime I spilled baking ingredients on my shirt and saw the white all-purpose flour starkly contrasting the color of my clothes, I thought of Him.

How simple it is to turn our thoughts toward heavenly things.

And it struck me what great responsibility there is in the choosing of our traditions. With a word, I have the power to make our Christian holidays about Christ, or about…other stuff. If my kids expect sugar and candy and gifts and money and treats and fancy clothes and toys and consumption on every holiday, it will be because I – the holiday-maker – have made much of those things.

And I was struck even harder by how happily and easily my children embraced the beauty of a simple and homespun Good Friday at home. In their black clothes, my 2-year old and a 5-year old sat on a miniature picnic table  in our office and listened to a beautiful version of “At the Cross” over and over and over again until they had it memorized.

And guess what? The song wasn’t performed by a goofy animal band.

It didn’t have motions.

It wasn’t even sung by a children’s choir.

And guess what else? I didn’t make them listen to it.

I didn’t make them memorize it.

They weren’t rolling around bored on the floor by an ancient and stuffy hymn.

They voluntarily loved it and eventually sang their little hears out:

Alas and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a wretch as I? At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith, I received my sight and now I am happy all the day…

Beautiful. Meaningful. Eternal.

I could have died of happiness on the spot.

Our entire day carried with it the same solemnity and sweetness. When we began to dress in our church clothes for a Good Friday church gathering that evening, Gideon asked if he might take his bike and ride it in the church parking lot.

“No, not tonight, Gid.” Papa said.

“But why?” he asked.

“Well, because we’re going to church. Tonight is our Good Friday service.” Papa explained.

“Ohhh…” Gid replied, relief in his voice as he explained,”Well I can be sad while I ride my bike!”

We laughed at his childish interpretation of our day, but with hope; for someday, by the grace of God, he will rightly understand the weightiness of Good Friday, mourning over the broken state of the world in general and his heart in particular, but joyful for the redeeming work of Jesus Christ who rose from Friday’s grave.

I got a taste of what Easter weekend can be like this Good Friday…

And I’m thinking that maybe next year, the Easter Bunny will come the week after Easter.

A Picnicky Celebration of Springdom and Eastertide

I wouldn’t consider myself a super determined or headstrong individual…

I am only very slightly super determined and headstrong, until someone slightly more super determined and headstrong comes along and then I cower in the face of their super determination and headstrongitude.

until it came to this Easter picnic I envisioned one night as I lay in bed. It was going to happen, even if it meant my regular posse (my beautiful nieces) couldn’t be there due to scheduling conflicts and that I had to carry all the supplies out to the shed by myself (remember? Mr. Gore is a recovering back surgery patient…he has been forbidden to lift even a gallon of milk!).

I’m sure the neighbors think I’m an absolute nutcase, dragging rocking chairs and tables and half of my kitchen across our acre-sized lot for a 2-hour picnic, but…I AM a nutcase! I’m glad my neighbors are so astute.

And let’s face it…they’re probably nutcases, too. Who isn’t?

Anyhow, even though the odds were against me and even though I’m a big baby who hates to carry heavy stuff, I’m SO GLAD I plowed forth and picnicked. And I’m extra glad that our friends, Ben and Leslie, could come by at the last minute, all bedecked in their Easter finery. It was a special time to share with them and their handsome baby boy, Grey. Plus, Ben is a big guy who didn’t mind hauling all my junk back to the house when the picnic was over! Thanks, Ben.

And I’d like to thank you, loyal audience, for giving me the motivation to put a little extra something into our festivities ~ for you and you alone, I make sure my shoes match my clothes and that the table linens are ironed. I work a lot harder and a lot better – even at doing the dishes – with you in my life. In my heart, you were an honored guest at our Easter picnic…let’s take a look, shall we?

Lemonade is always refreshing and makes for a pretty treat…

this whole Easter picnic idea originated with the flowers my Mom dropped off after Mr. Gore’s surgery and this dishtowel from Anthropologie, circa 2007ish. (p.s. I DID iron this towel, but the Oklahoma wind knocked it down a couple of times and mussed it).

this carrot cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart is not to be missed! The recipe was perfectly easy to follow and that cream cheese icing with orange zest was tuh-DIE-for!

did you know that when you buy a dishtowel at Anthropologie you are also purchasing wall art or curtains or upholstery fabric? I have several and I use them for near about everything!

for the children, my Mom and I poured little bottles of milk into jars and colored them pink, purple, yellow, blue and green. Each bottle required only one little drop of food coloring (except for purple which required a couple red and a couple blue). Shake it up…Easter milk!

my Mom used to add sugar and vanilla to our “colored milk” but with all the other Easter treats we’ve had this week, we left those ingredients out. You should try it sometime, though – its delicious!

One thing is certain ~ I’ll never forget our Easter picnic by the shed!

(uber-green grass courtesy of iPhoto).

a little pail of carrots provided a healthy snack…

as did this little pitcher of celery. Perfect for my growing bunnies.

Easter picnics do something magical to even the rootingest, tootingest children and hypnotize them into momentary bouts of kindness and goodwill. Feast your eyes upon this rare display of sibling affection!

Ready…set…HUNT!

Gideon found 14 eggs. Rebekah found 3, 2 of which were pointed out to her. She is almost as observant as her Mama.

and as usual, Baby Betsie watched from afar.

the children loved this little watering can filled with Crunch n’ Munch and pastel peanut M&M’s

Isn’t Mr. Gore good to humor me and attend my silly picnics? He even showered and dressed for the occasion, with very little grumbling! He’s a fine chap, he is.

a quick wardrobe change transformed Betsie into a sweet little bunny rabbit…

she has been granted permission to raid all the neighborhood gardens, free of charge.

An easy and no-fuss menu of chips and croissant sandwiches made for simple preparation and clean-up. As always, a special thank you to my beloved Mother for helping me make this happen…without her, I would arrive late to all my parties as a frightening spectacle of dishevelment.

I present to you…the Williams family! So young, so devout, so lovely. We thank God for their friendship!

Now, back to the colored milk…

Next to the egg hunt, I think this was for real the highlight of the picnic for my eldest two – something about those pretty bottles of milk really intrigued them! For more on the bottles we used, see “Miss Sunday’s Two-Two“:

~

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Mrs. Gore loves to party. 

and so does her little friend, Baby Grey

and so does his adorable Mama, the other Leslie

and so does Miss Sunday, even though she refused to properly pose for this picture with her doting Mother.

Ahhhh…I think even grouchy old Mr. McGregor would have had fun at this picnic.

But then again, I do have a soft spot for grouchy old men.

Happy picnicking, everyone! Happy Spring! And Happy Easter!