Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt - Food & Activities

I love parties.  I love organizing them, planning them, throwing them!  So adding the Easter Egg Hunt to our party list didn't need much convincing.

Ever since Emma was born, the Easter Egg Hunt has become a tradition in our household .  We gather on Easter Monday, invite a whole bunch of friends with kids, have traditional Croatian Easter brunch and we hunt for eggs!  

Easter Sunday is usually a family day for everyone, that's why we love to hunt Easter eggs on a day when everyone is usually free of other obligations. This year our Easter Egg Hunt had to be scaled back a little bit because we had a family wedding to go to on that day.  Despite it all I was determined to provide a great hunt for Emma.  So with a lot of planning and preparation we pulled it of for Emma, a couple of friends and their mini siblings.

Easter Egg Hunt Baskets

How did the day progress?  Our friends arrived for brunch.  At Easter time it is a Croatian tradition (passed to me by my mom) to serve boiled ham, naturally colored boiled eggs, horse radish, lots of young, fresh veggies and in our household colorful cheese balls.  We eat these things for Easter Sunday and for as long as stocks last after that! :)

Appetiser Cheese Balls
Cheese balls "colored with" coconut flakes, chives, paprika and sesame. It's a mix of four to six different cheeses and it comes out delicious! A recipe soon to follow and we usually only serve this for the Egg Hunt brunch.

Easter Boiled Ham
Boiled Ham (I only remembered to take a photo after people already started digging in).  I'll post a recipe for this as well, although its pretty easy.

Easter Egg Hunt Brunch Buffet
This is what the buffet looked like after it was already opened for brunch.  Cheese balls, ham, veggies, roasted nuts & seeds (pine nuts, sunflower seeds etc) & dips.

Easter Egg Hunt Brunch
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and soon after it was time to check if Easter bunny had arrived.  This, of course, is the highlight of their day.

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt Full Baskets

Once the hunt was completed, we checked if everyone had a red egg (just an arbitrary egg color - make sure all have it) so that they can win a small gift from Easter Bunny.  Easter Bunny is small and he only brings small gifts, as compared to Santa. :)

Easter Egg Hunt Favors

Everyone got a homemade Easter goody bag with a little bucket, some earth, flower seeds, and Easter themed coloring page, bubbles, stickers and a small chocolate wrapped in Easter themed paper to match the bag header.  I found these cute Easter printables at Anything but Perfect.

Easter Egg Hunt Favors

The kids were to plant their seeds and wait and see what will come out if they take care of it.  It was a lot of fun, bubbles and activities.  So much so that the kids didn't really eat any chocolate.  That was really the idea since with her lactose intollerance, Emma's not allowed any. 

Easter Egg Hunt Activities
 All the kids busy planting and watering their pots.

If all this wasn't enough to keep their minds of chocolate, we even had a real bunny for kids to pet and feed! They loved him!  They'd bring him grass and flowers, despite the fact that he was already on the grass! They stroked him and played with him.  I think its a great educational activity.  Touching the animals, seeing what they do, watching them eat and drink although still I can't help but feel sorry for the poor bunny.  Its worth mentioning that no animals were hurt during this event! :)

Easter Egg Hunt Bunny

We love our Easter egg hunt parties.  The kids enjoy them and it is a great opportunity to meet up with friends old and new. Can't wait until next year!


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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter - Decorating Eggs Naturally

The Christ has risen! Христос Васкрсе! Χριστός Ανέστη!

There you go, in all the languages you can find in our household :o)

I hope you are having a wonderful Easter! Its one of my favorite holidays.  Not too much commercialization, lots of family time, Easter egg hunt and the most perfect weather.  For my husband, the church is a big part of the celebration as well.  The entire holy week creates a build up right up until the resurection, especially the way the liturgies are done where he grew up.  He often says it doesn't feel like Easter if we don't go to church, for me its not quite like that but I'd like Emma to have a bit of both our traditions. So I'm planning from next year to make it more of a regular thing for us at Easter time.

naturally coloured eggs

These are some of our eggs this year.  Its always a pleasant surprise how they come out.  There is quite a bit of work going into this but its such a pleasure when you unwrap your eggs to be surprised by wonderful shapes and colors :)

I'd like to share the way we color the eggs in our household. This particular batch has been done using onion peel.  Who would have thought that such strong colour comes out of just a few dry onion skins?!

The whole process is a lot of fun, and the kids can so easily be involved in this.  You need to secure lots of onion peel.  The day you plan to do your eggs, go out to the park or a field with your kids and collect clovers, flowers, leaves with delicate detail. The more detail it has the better it will be because that is what will show. You can use parsley, dill, rocket, even rosemary!  Anything really.

You'll also need some ripped stockings (preferably not too thick) and thread.

Position the leaf on a raw egg as you like.  Wrap it in a cut out piece of stocking and tighten with thread.  Make sure it doesn't move as you are wrapping.  

naturally coloured eggs

Once that's done, put the onion peel in a pot of water at room temperature and some salt.  By then the eggs should also be room temperature. Place them also in the pot and boil as you would usually to get hard boiled eggs. On low heat.

naturally coloured eggs

naturally coloured eggs

Once the eggs are boiled, place the whole pot under running water and let the water run until the eggs cool down.  Take each out and carefully remove the stockings using scissors and clean completely.  Polish with olive oil and that's it.  Your perfectly natural, decorated, hard boiled Easter eggs. :)

naturally coloured eggs

This is what we do pretty much every year.  But recently I saw that a friend of mine has a really interesting way of doing something similar.  Still doing it naturally but with totally different results.  I'd like to learn more about that.  Maybe something to work on next year. :)

Happy Easter!  

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Number Three Shaped Chocolate Birthday Cake

This is another simple, delicious recipe which made an appearance at Emma's Fairy Birthday Party. I love it because it is so versatile and so, so yummy! It can, very easily, be lactose free, which is why I make it at EVERY party!  And since it can be shaped into pretty much anything it never, ever gets old.

This year for Emma's birthday we shaped it into Number Three, last year it was Winnie the Pooh, and on Emma's first birthday with a Musical theme, I had made a note which consisted of three different cakes. This was one of them.

This Easter, I'm making it an egg shape! :o)

Here are the ingredients.  This was a completely different cake when I came across it ages ago and I still end up changing things now and then.  So here is the recipe I used to make that delicious Number Three cake.

 Number Three 3 Shape Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
2/3 cup of cocoa
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cups of milk
6tbsp olive oil
1tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup of very hot water

Jam (homemade apricot does wonders, but any will do)

Chocolate Glaze
400g dark chocolate
1 cup heavy whipping creme

You can use pretty much anything. In this case I used soft icing to make flowers to give it a feel of a Fairy garden.

Yellow icing
Pink icing
Green icing
Edible glitter flakes
Chocolate sprinkles

To make the Number Three cake, I made this cake twice.  I needed to fill two bunt cake molds.  I didn't just make double the quantity.  I actually made one cake and then the second one after.

Preheat oven to 200C.  Smear a pan or cake mold of your choice with butter or oil and sprinkle some flour to keep from sticking.

In a bowl combine all dry ingredients, sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda & baking powder. Mix until combined.   In another bowl mix eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract.

Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Shift mixer to low speed and add hot water until blended. Pour the batter into the pan or mold and bake until the toothpick comes out clean, 20 - 25 minutes. Leave the cake to cool completely.

Once its cooled turn it out on a cutting board.  The cake will be up side down.  Leave it that way so that you can have a smoother surface for glazing.

To make the number three cake, turn out both bunt cake shapes.  Cut a quarter out of the one cake and a third out of the other.  You will not use those pieces for the cake any more so it makes a perfect tasting opportunity and a great snack with your coffee.

Cut the cakes in half, horizontally.  Carefully separate the halves and spread the jam on the inside part for the filling. Place the halves back together and position each cake so that it makes the number three shape on a tray you will use to serve the cake.

Number Three 3 Shape Chocolate Cake prep

Once that's done its time for the glaze.

Place the whipping cream in a pot and cook on low heat.  When you see small bubbles showing up on the side add the chocolate and keep stirring until its all blended well together.  You should end up with a soft glaze.  It is easily applied by pouring it along the top of the cake and spreading it with a straight knife.  Make sure you clean around the cake for any excess glaze.

 Number Three 3 Shape Chocolate Cake glaze

Next apply any decoration you like.  Here I'm making pink Fairy feel flowers using soft icing.  I also added chocolate sprinkles around the bottom edge of the cake as well as edible glitter flakes.

And there you go, your amazingly delicious Number Three shaped birthday cake. :)

Number Three 3 Shape Chocolate Cake


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Crafts - Collage Egg

Continuing on with our week of Easter Crafts and activities :).  This is a really fun and simple craft, great for toddlers and preschoolers alike. 

Easter crafts Collage Egg

What you'll need:
Colored Paper (We used light yellow but you can use any color you like)
Paper confetti or magazine cut outs. 

A great educational activity would be allowing your child to go through a magazine and cut out anything that has to do with Easter. Eggs, bunnies, crosses, flowers, chicks etc and use those images to paste to the paper egg.

  • Cut an egg shape out of your paper
Easter crafts Collage Egg

  • Let your child apply the glue.  Depending on the thickness of your paper you may need to spread the glue evenly so that the paper doesn't become soggy.
Easter crafts Collage Egg gluing
  • Provide a bunch of confetti and let your child apply it sporadically.  I had to stop Emma at some point, she was really getting into it. :o) (Alternatively you can use Easter images cut from the magazine)
Easter crafts Collage Egg

Easter crafts Collage Egg gluingEaster crafts Collage Egg gluing

This is another fun craft which is now decorating our Spring Wall. :)

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Crafts - Decorative Eggs

Well we're almost in the middle of the Big Week!  It is Big Tuesday today and I'd like to share another fun Easter Craft you can do with your child. 

Easter crafts decorative egg

What you'll need:
Two polystyrene eggs
Red & Blue Paint
Two wooden skewers
Plastic beads
Plastic confetti

As an alternative you could also do this craft on your own and make it much more stylish with smaller beads, using just one or two bead colors & muted egg colors.  You could also posh it up a little by using ceramic eggs and acrylic paint.

  • Stick your eggs on a skewer and anchor them.
  • Get your child to paint one red and one blue.  The yellow one shown on the picture is for The Little Chick craft I posted about earlier.
  • You will need to do this a day in advance because the eggs should be completely dry for the next step.
Easter crafts decorative egg paintingEaster crafts decorative egg painting
  • Make a hole through your egg and thread the ribbon.  I used the skewer to make the hole and then I also used it to push the ribbon through.  Do that with both edges of your ribbon so that you get a loop.  Don't worry if the egg is not perfectly painted.  You will be able to cover all the imperfections with the beads.
Easter crafts decorative egg
  • Once you've threaded the egg, thread two beads one on each end including both ends of the ribbon. Tie a knot on each side.  You'll end up with an egg which you can hang.
Easter crafts decorative egg

Easter crafts decorative egg Easter crafts decorative egg

  • Pick the beads and confetti you'd like to add to your eggs.
Easter crafts decorative egg confetti
  • Place small amount of glue sporadically around the egg and let your child glue decorations of her choice.
Easter crafts decorative egg gluing beads

And there you go! A perfectly simple Easter Craft.  It makes a great gift and keepsake.  You can bring it out every year for Easter and have a great memento :)

Easter crafts decorative egg


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Fun Tuesday Hop

I'm very happy to be the star blog at the Fun Tuesday Hop!  Have fun looking around and exploring some of the wonderful blogs that have linked up :o)


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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Healthy Snack in Easy Lunch Box

Lately I haven't posted any of Emma's snacks.  So here's a healthy one we did recently.  Its such a simple meal, and just by serving it in a lunch box you can really make it so much more interesting for your little one.

The kiddos love the little compartments and tiny picks.  They're the perfect size for miniature fingers :)

Bento Lunch in Easy Lunch Box

Its a simple cheese sandwich with 2 mini yogurt cups.  Some sliced cucumber with a kitty pick and a fruit section of bananas & strawberries with a giraffe pick. Mmmm yummy!

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