Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Bread

An Easter holiday staple at our house -  
Braided Easter Egg Bread

This beautiful and decorative Easter bread adds such a festive look to the buffet table!  
No need to boil the eggs ahead of time, as they bake right into, and along with, the bread!  
Dyeing the {raw} eggs before setting them into the bread makes this an absolute stunner!


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 whole eggs, dyed if desired
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.
  2. Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the five colored eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place loaf on a buttered baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Brush risen loaf with melted butter.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden. 


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Monday, March 22, 2010

A new garden = new possibilities

I don't know what the weather was like in your area, but here in western PA, it felt more like mid-May than March this weekend!  Which meant that we spent most of the weekend outside, tidying up the yard and decorating for Easter. 

My awesome husband helped me to dig a new garden bed on the garage-side of our son's playhouse!  In the plum tree next to his house, I hung a birdhouse that he made in the Home Depot Kid's Workshop last fall.  With the area dug out, I'm itching to plant!  I remembered an old white trellis that I found somewhere that will fit perfectly against the garage wall of the playhouse. I can just see it covered with climbing roses similar to the ones above on my house. I'm going to use the green wagon that I found curbside in the bed to hold potted annuals to give the garden a beautiful, layered effect.  Later this spring I can fill in the bare areas with a few perennials and colorful annuals.

The effect of having garden beds catercorner on either side of the little house is really darling!  It balances it out perfectly and gives the playhouse a more authentic house feel.  My husband is just happy to have less lawn to mow!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

...because you can't beat {free!}

I mentioned in my last post that I had a few curbside finds to share with all of you! From time to time, my husband and I will find something tossed out in someone's trash that's too reusable or nice to pass up!  WIth a little tlc, paint, etc...one man's junk truly is another man's treasure!

The first find I came across this week was the {rustic} old wagon above! 

It's well worn and had to have some wood replaced inside, but it's a large size which will come in handy tucked into a garden bed to hold potted flowers.  In the fall, I can fill it with pumpkins!

Maybe I'm weird, but I thought it was quite charming!

The next find was this all wooden outdoor bench! 

Again, it's going to need some work, but with fresh stain,
and a few decorative outdoor pillows, 
it's going to be gorgeous in my backyard!

My son spotted the next treasure!

A wooden child's {rocking} chair!
It's adorable and just the *right* size for him!

But the BEST find was the one that I spotted!
My heart skipped a beat when I saw it there!

A gumball machine on a cast iron stand!
And it's in flawless condition!
Similar ones retail for between $65 - 80!!

Once I clean it up a bit
and fill it with assorted gumballs...

This is where it's going to go...

in my son's playhouse!
Just goes to show that you never know WHAT you'll find
if you keep your eyes open!

And the best part is...
I didn't pay a dime for any of these things!
They were all 100% FREE!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring is springing up!

The weather today and tomorrow will be near 70F!  

My son and I have been savoring it by taking walks together to enjoy the fresh air and get some much needed exercise {it was a long winter!}  

While out walking, we found a few curbside treasures that I'm so excited to show all of you!  

I have parties to attend for the next two weekends, and I'm also hoping to stop by a greenhouse to get some pansies {like the ones above} and some primroses.  I'm itching to see some spring color and flowers again!  Every day my spring-flowering bulbs are poking up more and more out of my garden beds.  I can't wait until they bloom!

 There's just something about spring flowers that makes me Happy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


With spring only a few days away, my mind is swirling with anticipation to get out and plant!

This time last year, my husband and I were preparing to begin work on building our son's playhouse. The house wasn't finished until early September. Being at the end of the growing season, that didn't leave much time to landscape around it the way that I wanted to.

I actually starting purchasing and planting for it long before I was able to actually plant around  it.  I just had everything growing in pots, ready and waiting to go into the ground once my husband gave me the green light.  I didn't want to landscape the area too soon, as my husband was working around it and plants would've been in his way {or worse - trampled!}

This year I'm hoping to create a little side garden by his garage. It's a shady spot, so I'll need to take that into consideration when I select the plants.  There's already a pretty plum tree growing there that I'd like to incorporate into the design. I'd like to have a mix of colorful perennials and annuals, with a few little playful decorative touches thrown in.  

I can't wait to get started on it!  

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy {belated} St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My son's school had a St. Paddy's Day party today
{don't you love his shirt?!}

While yours truly went to the Ireland Institute's annual bash
with Irish coffee and plenty of decadent desserts!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stuffing an Easter Basket

I truly love all seasons and holidays, as you can probably tell and I especially love Easter.  Spring is my favorite season, and Easter epitomizes the beauty of the spring season of renewal.  So it's an absolute pleasure each year for me to pick out special gifts to fill my son's Easter basket!  

Growing up, it was such a joy to wake up on Easter morning and see my basket!  My brothers and I weren't allowed to open them until after Mass. All dressed up in our formal Easterware, we'd wiggle in the pew full of excitement and anticipation. The anticipation was the best part!  As soon as we got home,  we tore right into our baskets! 

Mine were always filled with the most beautiful things! One year I found a lovely Ten Commandments bracelet :)  There would be elegant hair clips or a piece of jewelry (usually something religious or floral for spring), always a plush toy (usually a lamb or bunny), a white chocolate cross (my parents knew I didn't care much for milk or dark chocolate), caramel eggs, and usually a book or Bible.

I bought my son a beautiful, honey-colored basket with a blue and white polka dot liner from PotteryBarnKids when he was born. Each Easter, I relish in stuffing it full of special treats - chocolate carrots, springtime storybooks, his own Bible, little bags of jelly beans, a chocolate bunny {a MUST for any Easter basket!}, coloring books, a stuffed spring-time animal, gardening tools, playdoh-filled Easter eggs...

Once it's filled, the entire basket then gets wrapped up in cellophane and tied with a beautiful ribbon tied into a bow {you can skip it, but I feel like the cellophane makes it more special}.  

For newborns, Bunnies by the Bay has fabulous baby things that would be perfect for a 1st Easter basket.  I bought my son one of their duckie blankets and an adorable, plush carrot rattle for his first basket.  And of course, you can never go wrong with Peter Rabbit things this time of year!  Other cute things for a baby's basket would be a beautiful pacifer clip to wear to church services, or a spring sippy cup. 

I like to think beyond Easter itself and add things to the child's basket that can be enjoyed throughout the spring/summer months like sidewalk chalk, rain boots, a cute umbrella or raincoat, bubbles, gardening tools, sandbox toys, etc...

What kinds of things did you have in your Easter basket? What do you put in your child(ren)'s basket(s)?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rainy nights were made for Netflix

I've been a satisfied Netflix subscriber since 2003!  If you love movies but rarely get out to a theater (or have little ones that are too young to sit through a feature-length film), Netflix is perfect.

And we picked the perfect, inspirational family film for our movie night:

I remember when this film came out many years ago, but I don't think I ever sat through the entire movie.  I'm so glad I did!  It's absolutely charming from start to finish.  My husband and I loved it. Even our three year old was captivated by this heart-warming tale! If you haven't seen it (or haven't seen it in a long while), I highly recommend that you do so.  You won't be disappointed!

Hope everyone's enjoying their weekend!

Friday, March 12, 2010

They're back!!

Look what I saw outside my window this morning!!

To me, it's official!
Spring is here!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thinking ahead to Easter

With our snow quickly disappearing, and St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I'm beginning to plan ahead for Easter.  And for a quick and easy little treat, you can whip up these adorable Easter nest cupcakes.  I made a homemade yellow cake mix with homemade buttercream frosting (you can use a cake mix and premade frosting to cut down considerably on your prep time).   

Using adorable Easter or spring-colored cupcake liners make it all the cuter! You can buy the candy, speckled eggs almost anywhere and the edible, candy Easter grass I found at Target (it comes in a variety of pretty spring colors):

Little ones LOVE them!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Winter's last hurrah

With the calendar having turned to March, I think we may have seen the last of winter. I've so enjoyed it!  I'll miss the fluffy, downy snow, the excitement of an impending snowstorm, the thrill of watching the Winter Olympics {was that final hockey game awesome or what?!?}, all of the fun we had playing in the snow, the family togetherness of being indoors and vacationing together at Winterlude, the tummy-warming comfort food that brings solace to the spirit during frosty winter days. 

We took advantage of the snow on Friday and Saturday by having a little more winter fun...making snowcones from fresh {clean} snow and cherry syrup, building a friendly snowman in the backyard, having a snowball fight, and building a little snowfort.  

As much as we've enjoyed it, we're so excited about 
the arrival of spring!  

I'm so ready to see flowers again,
to get my hands dirty in the garden,
to see the birds flitting about the yard,

Just think - less than three weeks to go!