Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up: Easter Sunday

This is the second time we've hosted Easter dinner at our house which, if you know me, is a big deal.  I am not a good cook... which is actually the world's biggest understatement. I'd say I was an "okay" cook at best and have ruined plenty of meals.  Despite my efforts, I just don't seem to learn with experience or mistakes.  The culinary arts are definitely NOT a natural gift.

Two years ago I found myself quite surprisingly hosting Easter dinner. It was the first time I ever prepared a family holiday dinner and I was really quite stressed about how it would turn out.  I was worried about executing an edible meal, especially since both sides of my family are used to eating great food on the holidays thanks to the exceptional culinary skills of the family matriarchs.

I have always loved the idea of entertaining and have tried to learn how to cook over the past decade.  I've gotten enough of a handle for small things, like an "apps and dessert" spread for a Girls Night soiree or planning a fun child's birthday party.  But a real sit down DINNER?  A more "formal" meal?  Not my forte.   I am entirely ungifted when real cooking skills are called upon, such as the finesse of proper seasoning, the ability to cook meats to the right temperature, and coordinating food so it all comes to the table hot.

Two years ago, my self-imposed stress in preparing the Easter meal made me a bit testy and overwhelmed and honestly sucked some of the enjoyment out of the process and the day.   I wanted everything to be perfect because I was still operating under the illusion (or delusion) that "perfect" mattered.  I wanted everyone to be happy.  I wanted to be a "success" and I was a bit worried that everyone would be subconsciously comparing my meal to that of Easters past.

Some things turned out well that first Easter meal, and some things fell flat.  Yet when we volunteered to do Easter again this year, I came into it with a whole different perspective and it's all thanks to Mr. Nasty.

We dyed our Easter eggs with KoolAid this year and they were a far cry from the Martha Stewart eggs you see in a magazine but the kids had a blast doing it so who cares, right? One egg turned out looking absolutely disgusting. It was Rella's and she was upset at his grotesqueness so I drew a face on him and we named "Mr. Nasty."

Instead of hiding him away in the back of the fridge, quickly making him into egg salad, we showcased him  front and center and giggled about him, making up a theme song to the tune of Janet Jackson's "Nasty Boys" and of course it was called "Nasty Egg."  We laughed all weekend looking at him and I'd often provide a running commentary from Mr. Nasty in my gruffest voice.  He's become our Easter mascot.  Mr. Nasty is an example of imperfection, an experiment in color mixing gone wrong, that turned into an endearment because of his uniqueness.  He found a way into all of our hearts and we'll remember him for many Easters to come.  Because sometimes "perfect" is just plain boring.

There were no new Easter dresses this year.  Tink wore what she wore to her Pre-K graduation last spring.

Rella wore a hand-me-down bridesmaid's dress that had a torn hem and needed to be ironed but wasn't.

Pink did have a new outfit because she refuses to wear dresses any longer so I bought her some cotton capri pants and a comfy long shirt that she can wear with jeans or leggings.

Mr. Nasty reminded me to not be afraid to put my own unique "spin" on the day and the dinner. Keep it simple, laid back and fun.  It was okay to just be "me" and "me" is not someone who makes pie crust from scratch, serves seven courses, or makes a restaurant quality meal.  "Me" is someone who might potentially give you food poisoning or burn down the house, but that sure makes it interesting.  "Me" also figures if you serve lots of alcohol, everyone forgets the bad stuff anyway.

The only person judging me is me, and all that matters to me is that my guests feel welcome, comfortable, loved, and appreciated in my home.  I think if you make the effort, and focus on the experience of the day, it is always a success.

Perhaps all of you knew this already and think I'm just weird.  You're right, I am.

The kids are drinking pink lemonade, NOT Bellinis, so don't call Child Protective Services on us please. 

Our soon-to-be neighbors and newest BFFs unexpectantly stopped by to check the progress on the house they are building directly next door, and we were thrilled when they joined us for a quick Bellini and our egg hunt.  Thankfully, I had hidden 84 eggs for only 4 girls, so it was actually great to have an extra girl joining the hunt!  I love happy surprises and my motto is always "The more the merrier!"

Of course, I was so busy socializing with said neighbors that I didn't photograph the actual egg hunt, but whatever.  I can use my imagination later.

By the way, the meal was not embarrassing.  In fact, I impressed myself!  I didn't over cook the pork loin, the rub on it was great, the port wine sauce I prepared was super tasty, the roasted veggies turned out really yummy.  The only flop was my Easter Bread.  It was fine, but all crazy looking, over cooked on the outside and slightly undercooked on the inside, but it was my first time EVER baking bread in my life so it could have gone worse.  The girls loved it and Pink exclaimed it was the "best bread I've had in my life!" Probably because it was sweet and doughy.  Rock on.

Every time I let go of focusing on overachieving and doing everything "perfectly" I get closer to truly understanding that what matters is not the "image" of life, but living it authentically and appreciating it fully.  Life is not meant to look like a glossy magazine.  If it does, that's great!  But if that's not how you roll, that's cool too.  The important thing is that you enjoy however you do what you do.

Life is meant to be real, imperfect, quirky, and full of surprises.  Pretty and polished or reckless and dirty... however it plays out just be present and enjoy the moments.

Happy Spring everyone!   


Elizabeth said...

It sounds like it was just about perfect. As for the bread, I wish you'd taken a photo!

kario said...

I love your revelations and I love your self-acceptance. What a tremendous example for your girls. I am thrilled that you all had a lovely Easter dinner!

Happy Spring!

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