Thursday, April 16, 2015

Strawberries & Cream Cake



For Emma's birthday, I could not envision making anything short of a strawberry cake for my little sweetie. She loves strawberries and whipped cream so I had originally planned on making this French Strawberry Cake for her.

However, when Paul came back from his European adventure, he brought the plague with him. Within 24 hours of being back, I suddenly had one of the worst respiratory viruses I have ever had in my entire life. Here we are, nearly a month later, and I still have not fully recovered from it! Luckily, neither of the kids was affected but I was so sick and burnt out by the time we were ready to celebrate Emma's birthday that I just did not feel like making a labor-intensive cake.

Thank goodness for cake mix! My Mom and I had a discussion about how useful cake mix can be as a quick base that can be "dressed up" to make some pretty darn good tasting desserts. Mom says she always feels a little "ashamed" to admit to using a cake mix - but I think if it tastes great and people love eating it, who cares?


Now, you certainly could use your favorite white or yellow butter cake recipe and make this same cake, but it is so easy to just open a bunch of boxes, dump all the ingredients into a mixer, let it whip a couple minutes, and then pour into cake pans. It took me about 5 minutes of work and then I went back to lying on the couch with my mountain of tissues.

After the cake has been baked and cooled, a simple whipped cream frosting is made - using a bit of cream cheese to help stabilize - and lots of chopped, sweetened strawberries are hidden between the layers. I added a little heart shaped strawberry patch onto the very top of my cake and garnished the sides with additional strawberries. Simple, elegant, and the birthday girl was very pleased!



The cake was delicious! The cake itself had a bit of an "angel food cake" taste to it thanks to the addition  of the white chocolate pudding. Of course, this combination was great when combined with the whipped cream and fresh strawberries. It was a lovely, not-to-sweet taste of spring! Paul and I both loved how it did not feel "heavy" or "painfully sweet" like some cakes can. I will definitely be making this again - I think it's a crowd-pleaser!



Strawberries & Cream Cake
adapted from Let's Dish Recipes

For the Cake:
1 box white cake mix
1 box (3.4 oz.) instant white chocolate pudding (I used Hershey's White Chocolate Pudding)
5 egg whites
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:
3 cups heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

For the Filling:
3-4 cups chopped strawberries, plus more strawberries for garnish
1-2 tablespoons of sugar, depending on the sweetness of your berries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine cake ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning onto wire racks to cool completely. After the cake layers are cooled completely, they can be wrapped very tightly in a double layer of plastic and frozen for up to a month.

When ready to decorate, place the chopped strawberries into a medium bowl and sprinkle with enough sugar to taste. Mix everything together and then set aside, tossing occasionally, while preparing the whipped cream frosting.

For the frosting, beat the heavy cream in a medium bowl until very stiff peaks form. In a separate large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla to the cream cheese and beat until well combined.

Place one cake layer on a cake stand. Top with half of the macerated strawberries and then top with a generous portion of the whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream gently to the edges. Place a second cake layer on top and add the remaining macerated berries. Press down gently onto the strawberries to make sure that they are firmly adhered to the cake layer, then add another generous helping of the whipped cream frosting. Place the third and final layer on top. Generously spread the remaining whipped cream up and down the sides of the cake. Smooth the top and sides and garnish with additional strawberries. Place in the fridge until ready to serve!! The cake is best served a couple hours after assembling to give all the flavors a chance to really meld together.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Happy Birthday, Emma Rose!



To my beautiful Emma Rose,

You turned two a few weeks ago. I know every parent says it, but I cannot believe how fast time has flown. You have grown from a tiny infant into a precocious little girl in the blink of an eye! You bring me joy every single day - even when you are at your crankiest - and I treasure every moment I get to spend with you.

We love you Emma Rosie. We love you, it's true!! Here are ten things that we love about you!

1. You melt our hearts when you sing to your baby dolls. You rock them back and forth gently while singing "Little Daughter.....Little Daughter"over and over in a tune only you seem to know. It melts my heart because you picked that phrase up from me. Whenever you fall down or hurt yourself and need some consolation, I wrap my arms around you and tell you: "It's alright, my little daughter." It's so touching to see you imitate me while interacting with your own "children".



2. Like your brother Matthew, you scorn all things potato (with the exception of french fries or tater tots) but you eat pretty much everything else. Including cat food. And if there is gum on the underside of a pew at church, you'll find it.


3. You love to dress up in pretty dresses, complete with sparkly shoes. However, you insist on wearing your shoes on the wrong feet and are so rough-and-tumble in play that your dresses all are doomed to be stained!



4. Ever since the snow thaw, you have been begging me to spend every second outdoors. You love to play, to run, and to dance in the sunshine. You also love to take walks with me around the neighborhood.

5. You talk to animals as if they are people. All animals seem to love you too. You charmed the ancient German Shepherd up the street into coming down the sidewalk to receive a pat from you while you were on your tricycle. I have never seen that animal move in the three years we have lived here.



6. You copy everything your big brother does. You think he is the funniest guy and laugh heartily at everything silly he does. You drive him a bit crazy when you mispronounce words, call every cat you see "a Riley", read a book upside-down, refer to magpies as "penguins", color over his art projects, and destroy his block towers. However, you almost always say "Sorry Matthew!" and win him over once more. He loves you so much too.



7. Your favorite animal is a ducky. Your favorite color is pink (followed closely by purple). Your favorite cereal is "Honey Bee Cereal" aka Honey Nut Cheerios. Your favorite drink is orange juice. Your favorite fruit is an apple. Your favorite snack is cheese.



8. Your favorite bedtime stories feature pigs. Your favorites are the Little Pookie books and the Olivia books. You still fall asleep only once wrapped in your Pooh blanket, stroking the tassels with your hands and with your baby doll wrapped up in her own blanket next to you.

9. You are so friendly to other children on the playground. You go right up to any kid of any age and say: "Hi! My name Emma!" Most of the time, the kids just stare at you blankly, but you don't seem to care. You also always seem to adopt an older child to act as your "maid servant" while at the park. Normally, this is a little girl about the age of 7 or 8 who follows you around wherever you go, helping you up and down stairs, slides, and bridges. You love it.



10. You always have ChapStick in your pocket to keep your lips hydrated. You normally stole this ChapStick from your mother's pocket while she was distracted.

Emma Rosie, you are so loved! Your laugh and smiles are contagious. You are adored by all who know you because of your sweet temperament, your spunky personality, and hilarious facial expressions. What a blessing you are in our lives.

Happiest of birthdays to you, my sweet little daughter.



Linking up for Tuesday Talk over here!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Texas-Style Potato Salad


This post is going to be short and to the point. The sun is shining and I'm going to spend the weekend outdoors!

Bottom line: if you want to add a little heat to your basic potato salad recipe, this version is an awesome way to do it! The gist is that you pickle your own onions and jalapenos while the potatoes cook. I could have eaten the pickled onions straight - they were so good! The hot potatoes are tossed with a bit of the pickling liquid and allowed to cool for 20 minutes to absorb the flavor completely. Then, the pickled peppers, onions, potatoes, eggs, and celery (if you like celery) is tossed together with a mustard-heavy sauce to coat and allowed to chill in the fridge until ready to eat!

I have written before about how every single pregnancy I have experienced an intense craving for all things vinegar. This has caused me to crave eating mustard and ketchup by the spoonful with a side of pickles and a cider vinegar shake. Gross,but oh-so-good at the same time. I think this is the reason both my kids are huge ketchup eaters. They also will just eat ketchup by the spoonful. Anyway, this potato salad - with the huge punch from the pickling juices and mustard sauce - was a dream come true for this pregnant gal. I kept sneaking bites of it from the fridge. Delicious!

Paul also loved this salad. Not surprising since he is always trying to add jalapeno to everything we make. The kids, of course, would not touch it. There was definitely a little too much heat for them. A little too much "Texas." However, Emma made up for her inability to eat Texas-style potato salad by dressing like a cowgirl for story time.


Texas-Style Potato Salad
from Cook's Country

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
2 jalapeno chiles (1 sliced into thin rings; 1 stemmed, seeded, and minced)
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
6 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large hard-cooked eggs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 celery rib, minced (We omit because Paul cries if I put celery in anything)

Combine vinegar, sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and mustard seeds in bowl and microwave until steaming, about 2 minutes. Whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add onion and jalapenos and set aside until cool, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain onion and jalapenos through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl. Reserve pickled vegetables and vinegar mixture separately.

Meanwhile, combine potatoes, 8 cups water, and 1 tablespoon salt in Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes thoroughly, then transfer to large bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons reserved vinegar mixture over hot potatoes and toss gently until evenly coated. (Reserve remaining vinegar mixture for another use - like a vinegar shake - kidding!) Refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through chilling.

Whisk mayonnaise, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne together in bowl until combined. Add mayonnaise mixture, reserved pickled vegetables, eggs, and celery to potatoes and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Batter Fried Chicken


We chose to make some fried chicken for Easter because we never, ever eat or make fried chicken. It's just not that appealing to pour 4 quarts of oil into a pot. I can almost feel my thighs getting bigger as I listen to the glub glub glub of the oil leaving the plastic container. If someone else made fried chicken (or fried anything) for me, I would gratefully accept and wolf down a couple pieces because I'm more removed from the process. However, making it myself is a different ballgame. Paul has been itching to deep fry something for a long time and since I would not let him deep fry our turkey at Thanksgiving, he had his chance when it came to the chicken for our Easter dinner.

Nothing sexier than a man in an apron.


We chose to use the Batter-Fried Chicken recipe from Cook's Country as our starting point. We seasoned the batter differently because we didn't care for the seasonings they used in the original recipe. We've been really hating paprika lately - don't ask us why! Basically, you first brine our chicken for an hour. During that hour, you make up a really thin batter of cornstarch and water. The batter was the consistency of a crepe batter and it made Paul nervous. After the brining period, the chicken pieces are removed, patted dry, and placed in the batter. The gigantic pot of oil is preheated to 350 degrees exactly - carefully monitored through the use of a heavy duty candy thermometer - and the chicken is then added and allowed to fry away for a good 12-15 minutes. Once the first batch is cooked, it is placed in a preheated 200 degree oven to remain warm and crisp up just a bit more while the rest of the chicken is cooked. Seriously, this was easy peasy!

The best part about using a candy thermometer to monitor the oil temperature? We avoided splattering. Because the oil was always around the optimal temperature for frying, we did not have to dodge spurts of oil haphazardly shooting out of the pot. I actually boast a couple scars on my arm from earlier in our marriage when we tried to fry something without the proper knowledge and equipment. This might also have something to do with why I never fry anything! However, using a really good thermometer to keep an eye on the oil temperature is a huge lifesaver. That and we also finally invested in a grease splatter shield.

Emma was already digging in at this point. She could not be troubled to turn around for the picture!


The chicken turned out so well! We loved it, the kids loved it, and it went pretty perfectly with the potato salad we made (I'll post that recipe soon!). If you're going to make fried chicken, the recipe better be good - and this one was awesome. It made a delightful crust on the chicken that was perfectly crispy, not too thick, and seasoned to perfection. Paul actually ended up frying off cakes of just the batter after the meal was over because he loved how much the breading tasted. I balked at this and told him he wasn't allowed to eat it. I want him around for a little while longer.

It might not look pretty, but if you're craving some delicious fried chicken, this recipe is pretty hard to beat!



Batter-Fried Chicken
adapted from Cook's Country

For the Brine:
1 quart cold water
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces

For the Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
5 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups cold water
3 quarts vegetable or peanut oil

To make the brine, whisk the quart of cold water, salt, and sugar in large bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. Add chicken and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the batter, whisk the water, flour, cornstarch, pepper, paprika, baking powder, salt, and cayenne in large bowl until smooth. Refrigerate batter while the chicken finishes brining.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. A heavy duty candy thermometer, preferably one that can be attached securely to the pot, is highly recommended. As the oil comes to temperature, remove the chicken from refrigerator, pour off brine, and pat dry with paper towels.

Re-whisk the batter and transfer half of the chicken to batter. One by one, remove chicken from batter (allowing excess to drip back into bowl) and transfer to the prepared oil. Fry chicken, adjusting burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature between 300 and 325 degrees, until deep golden brown. White meat pieces should register 160 degrees and dark meat pieces should register 170 degrees. This will take about 12-15 minutes.

While the chicken is frying, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Drain chicken on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven to keep warm while the second batch of chicken is fried. Bring the oil back to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.

Serve!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter Sunday 2015


Easter Sunday began with gloomy, ominous-looking cloud coverage and a light splattering of chilly rain. My first thought when I woke up was: "There goes any chance of an outdoor egg hunt." However, Matthew excitedly bouncing into the bedroom already fully dressed for Mass in his button-up shirt, vest, and khakis swiftly made my somber thoughts dissipate.



That is, until I had to dress myself for Easter Mass and shed a few tears over how gigantic I've become. This is how we know we're getting close to our baby's due date - I cry about once a day over my rotundness. Vain.



We all cleaned up pretty nicely and headed to Mass. The kids gave us the best Easter Sunday gift by being incredibly well behaved throughout the entire Mass. I actually listened to every reading, clearly heard the homily, and sang every song. I can't tell you the last time that happened! Normally, Emma needs to be taken out at least once because she has no volume control and usually chooses the most quiet times to suddenly yell: "I a dinosaur! ROAR!!"

We headed back home and banished the children to the upstairs to change while Paul prepared the Easter hunt and I slid the blueberry buckle into the oven. When the eggs were all hidden, the children were handed their Easter baskets and told to start searching in our living room first. Matthew went tearing into the room like a tornado and quickly found 90% of the eggs while Emma proceeded to try to wear her bucket as a hat. Paul and I had to majorly encourage her to find at least one egg in the room: "Here Emma - what's this behind the couch? Matthew, we know you see it, let your sister find one!!!"




The egg hunt continued throughout the rest of the house and Emma gradually picked up speed once she discovered there was candy inside the eggs. Suddenly, she became a pretty good little egg hunter. We still had to keep Matthew at bay from sweeping the entire room clean. He was on a mission. He did not even really care about the candy inside the eggs - he just liked the hunt! This was clearly illustrated after we declared all the eggs found. Emma sat down and began to enjoy eating her loot while Matthew continued to aimlessly wander throughout the house with his basket looking for more eggs even though we had explicitly assured him several times that all eggs had been found. At least this pointless mission kept him occupied out of the kitchen so I could finish preparing our breakfast.



We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of blueberry buckle, hard-boiled eggs (the kids ate about 5 each...gross), fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola. Oh, and the best coffee in the world - Peet's Coffee!!

Speaking of hard-boiled eggs - they were the ones we dyed on Saturday with the kids. Paul was pretty stressed about them spilling the multiple teacups filled with dye, but the kids did great! They only cracked eight of the two dozen eggs in the process.







After a quick clean-up, we saw that the temperatures had risen and the rain, while still threatening, had stopped. We asked the kids if they wanted to go outside for a walk and they quickly agreed as long as they could bring their umbrellas. They had been waiting for an opportunity to use them! So, we headed outdoors and enjoyed a relaxing stroll. Matthew loved puddle jumping (thank goodness for rubber rain boots!) while Emma conked out halfway through, exhausted from all that candy eating!

Both kids enjoyed some "quiet time" once we arrived back home while me and Paul called our parents. Then, it was time to make some fried chicken! Paul was in charge and I was happy for him to handle the task. He did a beautiful job - the chicken turned out perfectly crispy, juicy, and moist. The kids loved it as well and gave us Easter gift #2 by eating so well for dinner! There was no complaining!

After dinner and cleanup, we just enjoyed coloring pictures with the kids and enjoying time together as a family. It was really low-key but we rarely find the time to simply be present with the kids without distraction from other worries, concerns, or tasks. It was a pretty perfect ending for the day.

From our family to yours, here is wishing you a very blessed Easter season!


This post is being linked up for Tuesday Talk. Check out the other contributing posts in the linkup by clicking on the button below!

Sweet Little Ones

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fish Po'Boys with Spicy Tartar Sauce


I love it when Paul cooks. He has some great ideas and enjoys giving me a break from planning every once in a while. The other day, we were in the grocery store and he spied flounder fillets for sale in our fish market. "I've never had flounder!" he declared and before I could protest, we had a bag of flounder fillets in our cart.

"I'll come up with something to make with it. And it will be delicious!" he promised me.

Po'Boys and Apple Slices! A Gourmet meal!

What better opportunity to utilize our supply of flounder filets than a Friday in Lent? Paul scoured the internet for ideas for a recipe and came across this one from Martha Stewart. I thought it super funny that he chose to use a Martha recipe because he absolutely despises her. Occasionally, I will watch her baking show on PBS and he always comments on how condescending and annoying her demeanor is on television. He just thinks she acts super stuck-up about her kitchen knowledge, especially compared to other arguably more accomplished television chefs like Jacques Pepin or Hubert Keller. However, he likes po'boys and we already had most of the ingredients on hand for this recipe so he went with it anyway.


The po'boys were delicious!! The recipe came together really, really quick and everyone enjoyed them. I was unsure whether the kids would eat the whole sandwich, but they happily crunched their way through! The tartar sauce was incredible. I had a little trouble getting Matthew to try it at first, but once I told him that he did not have to have it on his sandwich if he truly disliked it, he sampled a small spoonful and discovered that he actually really liked the taste! He asked for a generous portion to be slathered on his sandwich! I was happy to oblige.


Thanks Paul for the wonderful meal!

Fish Po'Boys with Spicy Tartar Sauce
barely adapted from Martha Stewart

Note: If you don't have flounder, any mild white fish - like sole, tilapia, or even catfish - can be used. It will have a slightly different flavor (flounder is extremely mild), but will still be delicious!

For the Fish:
1 pound flounder fillets
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

Cut fillets into 1 1/2-inch wide strips. Pat fillets dry. Toss with cornmeal and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Brown fish on both sides (about 7-10 minutes total), being careful when turning the fish as flounder is especially delicate. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with additional salt if necessary.

For the Tartar Sauce:
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chili sauce (the ketchup condiment, not the Asian condiment!)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
A dash of lemon juice (to taste)
2 tablespoons grainy mustard (we used Grey Poupon Country Mustard)
2 tablespoons finely chopped gherkins or pickles
Hot Sauce, like Frank's or Tabasco (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season with hot sauce and lemon juice to taste.

For the Po'Boys:
4 soft French Bread Rolls, split
1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced
Romaine Lettuce
Red Onion

Spread a generous amount of the tartar sauce on both sides of rolls. Add lettuce, tomato, onion, and fish. Serve!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Sunday Plans

Since I have no new photos to post, I just keep dipping into the archives in order for everyone to have something to look at besides text! Plus, it's kind of fun to look back and see what the kids looked like during this time last year. They certainly have grown since last Easter!!
 
With Palm Sunday coming up this weekend, we are not too far away from the closing of the Lenten season and the beginning of my favorite time in the liturgical year: Easter!!

One of my favorite memories from Easter Sunday growing up was being able to debut my brand new, spring-themed dress. My sisters and I always dressed super fancy on Easter Sunday in flouncy pink chiffon dresses with white lace gloves and pretty strappy sandals. Sometimes, we sometimes even wore pretty white straw hats with pink bows on our heads, probably more to hide the bad 90s haircuts we were currently sporting than to complement our outfits. I don't remember my brothers ever wearing anything special except maybe Raymond who would break out a stylish pair of Amish-inspired suspenders to hold up his pants. We always felt so fancy going to Mass and it was always breathtaking to walk into the church interior that had been previously an unadorned, quiet, and somber space for duration of Lent and find it completely transformed into a joyful space filled with the beauty of fresh flowers and the sounds of holy water flowing from the baptismal font.

Look how small sweet little Emma was on Easter Sunday last year!


After Mass, we always were excited to head home and search for eggs and baskets filled with goodies. My Dad normally wrote a little riddle personalized for each child that led us to our hidden baskets. Michael's basket was almost always to be found on one of the toilet seats. I don't know why he even bothered reading his clue most years. After the hunt was over, we sat down to a delicious breakfast of hard-boiled eggs (dyed the day before), pineapple and strawberries, and my Mom's delicious walnut twist with brown butter glaze. That walnut twist is still my favorite pastry in the whole wide world and one I need to share on this blog very, very soon! The only reason I will not be making it on Easter Sunday is because my picky, picky children will carefully extract every single nut from their piece before eating it. That or stick one of the nuts up their nose where it will have to be dislodged by an ENT. It's just not worth the aggravation.



Paul and I planned way ahead for Easter this year. We have already gathered everything needed for the Easter baskets. Paul especially enjoys selecting candy for the kids because he has a huge sweet tooth when it comes to candy: "Robin Eggs! It would not be Easter without Robin Eggs!" In addition to hoarding a ton of candy for the kiddos, we have also sat down and completed our Easter menu. We traditionally cook the meals together for that day and both look forward to it very much. This year, we debated about cooking rack of lamb for the first time but after gawking at the meat prices and thinking of how upset we would be if our kids scorned our protein of choice, we decided to go a completely different route. No, we are not doing ham or pork rib roast (as we have done the previous two years because it is so gosh darn good!). Instead, we are going to keep things simple and summer-themed.

I doubt it will be as sunny this year as it was last year. We loved having the egg hunt outside!


Our menu plans for Easter Sunday is as follows:

Easter Breakfast

Blueberry Buckle - so delicious!
Fresh Fruit of some sort - Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, pineapple
Yogurt
Granola
Hard Boiled Eggs - Paul hates eating them straight, but the kids love them!
*Ideally we would also have bagels and Lox but my midwife will not allow it until after Baby Lucy arrives!

Easter Lunch

Candy from our Easter Baskets - I wish I were joking!

Paul's comment while previewing this post: "We didn't even take the tag off Emma's basket last year?!
What the heck is wrong with us?!?!"


Easter Dinner

Fried Chicken (We never make it and the kids love it!) - either this recipe or this one
Potato Salad (Mom's recipe)
Seven Layer Picnic Salad - Can be found here
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Biscuits or Challah

Hopefully, the weather will be semi-decent so we can try to get outside for a little bit. My sister Catherine gifted a beautiful dress for Emma to wear for Easter. Matthew will probably wear the same exact outfit he wore last year (and pretty much every Sunday since) because he loves it so much. He refers to it as his "Easter outfit" even though he has worn it through Ordinary Time, Advent, Lent, etc.

We are looking forward to a beautiful day and some great time spent together! What are your plans for Easter Sunday?