My Easter Egg Fiasco


eastereggs6aI love ideas. I love cookbooks – because they are full of ideas. I love magazines- because they are full of ideas. I love hobby stores. Why, you ask? (I know you didn’t really ask, but work with me for a minute…) Because they are full of ideas. And now, for idea junkies like me, there is Pinterest – my own personal scrapbook in the ethereal cloud of the internet that can hold an endless amount of ideas and can be accessed in seconds. Wow!

Collecting ideas is great, no doubt. But putting them to good use can be another matter. Take Easter egg decorating, for example. Some years ago, when my children were younger, I read a magazine article about natural dyes you can make for Easter eggs with resulting soft pastels and gentle spring hues that looked absolutely stunning on eggs resting in an all-natural woven Easter basket. At least that’s what the picture looked like…

Determined to make that Easter particularly memorable for my children, I headed off to the grocery store, magazine article in hand. I returned with $16 worth of fresh cabbage, turnips, turmeric spice, beets and onion, all the recommended sources for natural dyes.  I chopped, pureed, boiled, smashed, and stirred my way into the stinkiest, smelliest kitchen mess I have ever created. The whole house reeked of cooked cabbage (soft green), boiled turnips (purple), blended cooked onion and turmeric (yellow), and pureed boiled beets (red). We had the windows open for fresh air and no one, especially my children, wanted to be anywhere near the kitchen. I insisted they join me for the actual Easter egg dyeing process (which, by the way, took 10 times longer than those nifty fizzy tablets in vinegar take.) The kids participated, with noses plugged, by dropping the eggs into the bowls of natural dye and then fleeing the kitchen as fast as they could. I remained there, cleaning up my mess and stirring the eggs for the next several hours as they ever so slowly took on the pretty pastel colors I had so eagerly anticipated. The next morning, Easter Sunday, I placed the dyed eggs in their plastic Easter baskets and then later we turned them into egg salad. Wow.

For some reason, holidays seem like the perfect time to incorporate all those great new ideas, whether it is a recipe, a craft, or a hundred new ideas on my Pinterest boards. However, I have an “S.O.S” signal sounding off in my inner person. A voice in my head speaking the words, “Choose a Season Of Simplicity, not a Season Of Stress.”  And I am beginning to listen.

As time passes and my life changes, I am learning that simplicity should be sought after as eagerly as productivity. Women are often presented with the perspective that “smart women have it all”, or “productive women spin many plates successfully”.  But there is another image that we as women have to look harder to find. The image of wise women who keep it simple. Women who know that life can sometimes be richer when we have less. Life can sometimes be more enjoyable when we do less. Life can sometimes be more memorable when we achieve less.

So, in the spirit of simplicity, I am attempting to choose more stress-free activities this year. Yes, we will maintain those special traditions we have loved for so long.  We will still enjoy our favorite recipes and activities together. But this year my S.O.S. call will not be a call to stress.  It will be a call to simplicity. I hope you will join me in choosing a Season Of Simplicity.  Happy Easter!


Simple Pleasures: Mashed Potatoes

The sun is shining here in Northeast Ohio on this spring holiday weekend as many of us prepare to spend time with family and friends. Our family is headed out in just a short time to enjoy a delicious meal with both my immediate family and extended family.  My job is to bring the mashed potatoes.  In fact, now I offer to bring the mashed potatoes to most family meals.  This began after I found and tried this amazing Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe.

I love mashed potatoes, but I always hated the prep process – peeling, chopping, boiling, draining, beating, scooping – all at the last minute.  This process always resulted in me as the hostess sitting down to enjoy the meal all  while the potato kettle is cooling in the kitchen with mashed potatoes drying on the sides and the potato peels are turning brown in my Tupperware bowl. (I know, some of you are clean cooks and have this all taken care of before you eat.  However, I fall into the Messy Cook category.)

Then I found a make-ahead recipe for mashed potatoes. Today there are dozens of these recipes online, using either the oven or a crock pot/slow cooker. I actually do not remember where I originally found this recipe.  But they all are essentially the same, except for your choice of seasonings and method of reheating them.

So for those of you who have been assigned the mashed potato job for your holiday meal, here is a 1-2-3 recipe to make your job a whole lot easier.  Just beware – you might become the perpetual potato person for all future family meals!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes:

mashed potatoes 1 Step 1:  Peel, chop and cook cubed potatoes (5 lb. bag) in salted boiling water until cooked and soft, but not mushy.  (I am assuming you have done this part before.) Drain the cooked potatoes. Place 1 stick butter or margarine, 1-8 oz. cream cheese and 1-8 oz sour cream on top of the potatoes.  Allow these to sit and soften a few minutes.



mashed potatoes 2Step 2:  Beat the potatoes and extra ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Do not overbeat or they can turn to thick paste.  A few tiny potato chunks will let everyone know these are the real deal!



mashed potatoes 3Step 3: Spread these fluffy potatoes in a greased 13×9 pan.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  To reheat:  Remove cover and place mashed potatoes in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  (If using a glass pan, do not take pan directly from fridge to oven.)  Top with a dollop of butter and serve!  You can make these potatoes the day before your event or even just a few hours before your event, with excellent results.

There you go, folks – my answer to avoid the dread of making mashed potatoes!  I hope you and your family enjoy this holiday weekend as we remember the events of that Holy Week so many years ago when Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of humanity, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and rose again the third day – and is still alive for us.  What good news, what hope that brings in these days full of difficult news.  He is risen!