The Best Easter Weekend

I hope everybody had a terrific Easter weekend! I've mentioned here before that Easter is one of my favorite holidays because of the meaning behind it. It is a day that we can celebrate our risen Savior's triumph over sin and death and rejoice in the fact that we have the hope of living with him someday because of his great sacrifice.

A few years ago we started the tradition of hosting both sides of our family for Easter Sunday at our house. Most holidays are spent splitting time with both families (which is fine, that's just how it is), but I love the idea of having one holiday where we can have both sides over to our house and have one big celebration.

Also I love hosting people in our home and I don't get the opportunity to do so very ofen. We didn't do this last year for some reason (I don't remember why) but I'm glad we got to host this year and I hope it is a tradition that continues on in years to come.
Who says you can't use paper plates for Easter? I found these at Michaels - they're pretty and they make clean up SO much easier!

I couldn't decide what to do for lunch and then it hit me...I'll do Easter brunch! I LOVE brunch! And it was so much easier than doing a huge dinner.

We got up and went to early church service and Sunday school class and we were home by 11:00. Since I have gotten in the habit of waking up at 5:30 each day, I've found that it's much easier to get everybody up and ready in  time to be at early service by 8:15. We have come to make this our routine and I enjoy getting home earlier and having more of the day to relax.

*Sidenote: On this particular Sunday, we somehow got the girls up, let them open their Easter baskets, got them ready, ate breakfast, took a picture of them together in their dresses, and made it to church 10 minutes early. This never happens and I have no idea how we did it!

As soon as we got home we began preparing our brunch. We ended up having way to much food!

On the menu was:
Country ham
Sausage casserole
Hashbrown casserole
Lemon sweet rolls
Carrot cupcakes
Chocolate cake
These carrot cupcakes from Whimsical September were so good!

Our moms helped out with the casseroles and my sister-in-law Lindsey brought some fruit, so that took a couple of things off my plate (thank you for that!)

I want to talk a minute about the lemon sweet rolls. I found this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago and knew I needed to make them for Easter brunch. Not much screams Spring more than lemon. I knew that I would not have time to prepare them the morning of, so I wanted to make them the day before. They are made with dry active yeast and something was telling me in my gut to do a little more research on how to store them over night. I found out that if I had stored them (unbaked) in the refrigerator that the cold would have messed up the rising process and they wouldn't rise like they should. It also said that it could leave a sour, alcohol-like taste, and nobody wants that!

I found that the best thing to do was to "par bake" them, which means you bake it just enough to stop the yeast from working, but don't bake them all the way. You want to bake them until the bottoms are starting to brown, but the tops are still white. Then the next day you pop them back in the oven to let them brown up and get warm. I started with 10 minutes and kept adding more time until the bottoms started to brown. I think it ended up being about 18 minutes. I let them cool in the pan, covered them, and stored them in the fridge overnight.

Then as soon as we got home from church, I pulled them out of the fridge, preheated the oven, and baked them until they were brown on top. It ended up taking about 20 minutes for them to brown up, but I think had I let them sit out for longer and get closer to room temperature, it wouldn't have taken as long. I was very worried at how they would turn out since this was my first time making anything like this, but they turned out perfect! I wish I had snapped a picture of them, but I didn't think about it.

If you follow my Instagram, you know that Audrey is a stinker when it comes to smiling for pictures. Well, today we bribed her with Pez to get her to smile and it surprisingly worked. There was also somebody behind the camera making silly faces, which made her laugh (#youdowhatyougottado).

After lunch the girls got to open a few presents from their grandparents and aunt and uncle, then we went to play outside. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I'm very thankful for the time to just relax outside with family and watch the girls play. They hunted Easter eggs, blew bubbles, played with chalk, and ate candy and cupcakes.

Raley got this pretty Elsa dress from Gigi and she wanted to wear it, but it's a little long and I was so paranoid that she was going to step on it and rip it while running around in the yard!
I love these little bunny ear clips
Around 3:00 the girls were getting quite cranky so we knew it was nap time. Everyone left and we put them down for a late nap. While they were napping, David and I sat down and watched The Passion of the Christ. Neither one of us had seen it in years, but we wanted to watch it on Easter, to help us stay in the right mindset and remember what it was that Christ did for us. If you haven't seen it, it's not an easy movie to watch, but it's worth seeing. You don't realize how brutal his crucifixion and the hours leading up to it were until you watch something like this. It is gut-wrenching, but not in a gory scary movie kind of way. These events really happened and he endured all of it for every single one of us!

After the girls got up from their naps, we just took it easy the rest of the day, had lots of play time and watched Wreck It Ralph. David and I were still so stuffed from lunch that we didn't even eat dinner. We made the girls PB&J's for dinner and called it a night.

For me, this is my ideal Easter. We get to spend time with family (although we were missing a few), sit outside in the Spring air, do lots of playing, and worship our Lord and God. I am just so thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to worship where and how we want to and that we have an opportunity to place emphasis on the events that happened during the Passover so many years ago.

How about you? What is your ideal Easter? Do you have any Easter traditions? Have you ever seen The Passion of the Christ? How do you feel about it?

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