Friday, April 29, 2011

Renewal Month of April: Blog 5: Letters From Mom & Mimi

Our Easter Baby
Happy Easter Ellie Jelly Bean!

I love that your Mimi included Aunt Sammy in last week's blog, she fits into our family perfectly and we are so excited for her and Uncle Ryan's upcoming wedding.  Now, I just wish Aunt Samantha lived closer to come visit us for a girls' weekend in Denver!  I also laughed when your Mimi wrote about her favorite dress as a child... of course it was rainbow colored.  You will never meet anyone who enjoys bright colors as much as your Mimi Ellie!  Embrace it, color and brightness bring smiles and make days more happy!

Celebrating this holiday with you these past 40 days of Lent has been fun in part because I dressed you up in fluffy princess dresses!  We took you to visit the Easter Bunny and you thought we were crazy (afterall, why would you like to sit on a giant rodent's lap?!).
Visiting the Easter Bunny for the 1st time!

You tried your Dad's delicious fried perogies that we had on Fridays (in place of meat) and you loved them (despite their hot seasoning).  It's hard to believe that this is your second Easter with us.  Last year, you weren't even two weeks old.  Mimi bought you a gorgeous newborn Easter dress but it was way too big since you were just a peanut of a thing.
Your First Easter- 2010

As for this year, we weren't quite ready to dye eggs or hide them (at the rate you opened your Christmas presents, those eggs would rot by the time you would find them!).  So we went to morning Mass (in which you thought the children's room was a wonderful party and you entertained everyone with your walking, talking, and silly noises.  We need to work on teaching you prayer, reflection, and meditation!  But for the first time, you walked up to the basket for the offering!), then we went to a delicious fancy brunch with friends (but because you love ketchup, you lost half of your Easter outfit to the mess and you and I spent most of our time in the lobby so you could show off your running skills... and since we were near the door low and behold we saw John Elway leaving!).

Your Easter gift from your Dad & I are Mommy & Me swim classes that start next week!  And of course you did get an Easter basket that was mailed to you from your Mimi- filled with fruit bars, books, headbands, and clothes!!!
Mimi knows just what you love (including this adorable outfit)!

And that basket was shipped in shredded paper that you thought was candy...
My Paper Eater

Mimi, what is your best Easter memory?  Ellie, your Mimi is always great at trying new foods at holidays and one year, we had lobster.  I will let her tell you about that one.  But my favorite Easters were when your Uncle Ryan and I were kids in Philadelphia.  We would look for the eggs that the bunny would hide (and your Poppy couldn't help himself and he would always tell us where the best ones were hidden). The bunny would also hide the big, giant Easter baskets filled with candy and gifts- not an easy feat in a tiny rowhouse (but I can't tell you where these places were in case the bunny uses the same on you in the future).  Then, after breakfast (yummy tomato and egg sandwiches), we would go down to Great-Gigi and Great-Pop's house down the street where the bunny left us another basket of goodies there too!  Many Easters, Great-Pop would have to work at the firehouse and after we were in our Easter dresses/suits and bonnets, we would go and visit him.  I think he liked that!

But best of all was our Sunday dinners at Great-Gigi's (and these didn't just happen on Easter, they happened every Sunday! The only difference is that we were dressed up on holidays).  Here is her delicious recipe for Twice-Baked Potatoes, one of my favorite dishes that she makes (and she says it goes best with roast beef but I say they go with everything!):

Gram Russell's Yummy Twice Baked Potatoes:
Idaho potatoes- rinse, pierce with fork & cook in oven for about 1 hour, then cut in half & scoop potatoes out of their skins  and put them in a bowl
Heat milk & butter in a saucepan & add to potatoes and beat with mixer
Add salt, pepper & refill shells---add your favorite topping & enjoy!

Remember Ellie, family time feeds not only your belly but your soul too.  On holidays as a family prayer, we always go around and share what we are thankful for and most often than not, we say each other.  I sure am grateful for you and your Daddy in my life (and the rest of our crazy large family too!). That's what Easter is- celebrating LIFE!!!  Don't forget that.
The beautiful Easter girl in her new outfit from Mimi & Poppy!

Not to cut this letter short but it is girls' weekend with Aunt Joanne and Gigi (and we are having a lot of fun!!!)- so until next week when we will celebrate moms in the month of May my sweet baby!

I love you Elle-belle!

And now from your Mimi...

Good Morning Ellie Jelly Bean!

It is quite early in the morning Ellie... a very peaceful time.  The rain is coming down ever so softly.  The pitter-patters of raindrops are just barely brushing against the windows, almost like a whisper.  Days like this can be very calming... all you need is a warm cup of tea, a comfy place to rest and a window to daydream!  Days like this can surely bring smiles for they are quite soothing!  And if that old saying "April Showers bring May Flowers" is really true, then the month of May is going to be very pleasing to the eye indeed!

Easter weekend as always was a wonderful time.  Your Uncle Ryan and Aunt Sammy joined Poppy and I for a night out at the movies... we went to see Water For Elephants.  Good movie, but I wish I read the book first to make or change that call.  We also took advantage of the rainy weekend to work on some house projects.  (It is easier to start and finish them when you know you are stuck inside!)  The PSU baseball game we had planned to attend was rained out so we had no excuse to delay working!  As for our Easter dinner, I did not make the typical ham Ellie, nor did we go out to one of the more popular restaurants for a late brunch like we have in the past.... no, I cooked up a homemade and incredibly delicious meal if I must say so myself!  A Filet Mignon Tenderloin Roast with all the trimmings!  That is the Entree recipe that I will share below!  Oh Ellie, Easter Sunday was truly the most beautiful day, as it is every year. I changed our usual itinerary and Poppy and I started the day by attending 7:30 am mass.  Not to take away from any other weekend Ellie, but there is something special about Easter Mass.  It allows us to reflect on our past, to see if we are carrying out God's Will in life... and a chance to get 'a movin' if we've gotten a slow start.  It is a wake-up call; for Easter is a day of renewal and hope, faith and love, forgiveness and purpose.  I love to arrive at church a bit earlier than the actual start of mass so as to meditate, say prayers and remember all who have touched my heart from past and present, all who have loved and guided me and all who have been called “home.”  Those in particular that never leave my mind are your great-great Grandmom Mundy (my gram), your great-Pop-pop Bud (my dad) and your brother Kyle.  I have such happy and wonderful thoughts of each of them but yet this emotional time brings tears to me also; many happy memories and sadness that they are not still here with us.  But I am thankful for every moment we did have together.  Life is so very precious and should never be taken for granted.

Seeing you in your pretty navy-blue sailor outfit Ellie reminded me of our Easter's past.... when your Mommy and Uncle Ryan were dressed up in their Easter finest too.  Your Mommy wore the prettiest and frilliest of dresses with a matching wide brimmed hat and white patent leather shoes.  She also loved to carry along a little fancy white pocketbook that toted pretend make-up and a mirror!  And she was a stickler for her hair being "just so!"   The night before Easter I would roll up your mommy's hair in lots and lots of sponge curlers, and in the morning right before leaving for church I would brush those pretty curls out, hoping that when I combed up a portion to be clipped in a barrette or swooped into a ponytail, no lumps or bumps would present themselves!  If one did she would look at me wide-eyed and sternly say "Fix it Mommy" before hair-do trauma set in!  (I think she must have worked as an inspector in a pudding factory in a past life Ellie and found one too many containers filled with way more than the allotted lump allowance!)  This theory is the only one that makes sense to me, for her intolerance to lumps and bumps has followed her through the years!  Luckily for me I have lots of patience, so "most" of the time I got it right... at least by the second or third try!  No matter though Ellie, lumps or no lumps, your Mommy was blessed with a natural beauty outside and in, just like you!  And needless to say she was always ready for a "Kodak" moment too, just like you!  As for your Uncle Ryan, I would dress him in romper style blue sailor-suits, each sporting a matching beret ...

Your Easter picture reminded me of this Ellie!

But where you discard clothes and shoes in establishments faster than a blink, your Uncle Ryan always kept his clothing intact looking like a brand new store bought Dresden Doll!  And like you and your Mommy, he too was a very handsome little boy!  Dressing them up was always one of my favorite things to do!

Easter mornings were always a lot of fun in our household Ellie.  Preparations actually started on Good Friday when we set an hour aside to dye 2 dozen hard-boiled eggs.  Everyone participated in the coloring of eggs and for the most part they turned out quite beautiful....with the exception of the 2 or 3 that were accidentally dropped from little hands pulling them out of the dyed water too fast!  But even with their cracks and dents, they too made the egg carton that was refrigerated until the Easter Bunny came in the middle of the night to hide them.  And the Easter Bunny was a terrific egg hider if I must say so myself!  He would take those eggs and hide them in the craziest of places upstairs and downstairs, in the likes of shoes and coat pockets, flower pots and silverware drawers, soap containers and lamp shades just to name a few!   Poppy always played the Hot, Warm, Cold Game with them to make sure they found every egg!  And sometimes he just couldn't help himself Ellie... if your Mommy and Uncle Ryan couldn't find an egg, even with all the clues given, he would get so excited and just come right out and tell them its exact location!    He loved the egg hunt just as much as they did!  (And how we escaped Salmonella poisoning year after year from eating those room temperature eggs for up to a week after Easter is mind boggling!... I guess back then we didn't know any better!)  Anyway, that very smart Easter Bunny also liked hiding the Easter Baskets too!  Each year he found an even better hiding place for them than the previous one!  Make sure to ask your mommy someday about those clever hiding places!  Once the egg hunt, breakfast and church were finished, we would all gather for tea and something deliciously sweet at Grandmom Mundy's.  Then afternoons would consist of watching the neighborhood children play outside in their pretty clothes while we adults soaked up some sun!  Dinner was always held at Grandmom Gigi's house which usually meant roast beef and lamb-chops (yummmm) with all the trimmings!  Your great Gigi was a fantastic cook and we were always thrilled to be invited!  The evenings would end with a final cup of tea at Gram Mundy's with neighborhood friends and lots of cheery conversation!  Another Easter that needs to be mentioned would be the one when your mommy decided to participate in a Foreign Exchange Program.  Since she had gone to live with a host family in France for three weeks one early spring, we in turn had to host a French gentleman for 3 weeks in our home.  Thankfully he was a very nice young man but unfortunately he spoke very little English.  Since his arrival was the day before Easter we decided to go forth and continue our yearly traditions anyway, so the Easter Bunny made a basket for him too.  When he awoke Easter morning, he had no clue what he was in for.  Since his family did not follow our traditions, it was like playing a game of Charades to help him find the hidden eggs all around our house.  Poppy, your mommy and Uncle Ryan would show him where to find a hidden egg, then guide him back to the center of the living room to deposit the egg into a large bowl that sat on the floor, only to venture off again to repeat this process! Gratefully, he was a very good sport in participating with what I am sure he thought was "very bizarre behavior!"  The following year we hosted a foreign exchange student again, this time a beautiful young lady from England.   She too was with us over an Easter Holiday and loved participating in our Easter Day activities!.. You know this lovely woman well Ellie... she is one of your mommy's dearest friends, Aunt Catherine!   You see, everyone is welcome in our home, whether it is a holiday or weekday, our door is always open with smiling faces to greet you! 

So I guess the lesson to be learned here Ellie is:  Family traditions are very important.  Tweak them if you must, but continue them throughout your life as they will bring you new friendships and happy memories of all the years gone by!    

Now for an Easter Main Dish Recipe:

Roast Filet Mignon Tenderloin

3 lb Filet Mignon Tenderloin
3/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning Rub

Mix soy sauce and lemon juice together and marinate tenderloin in mixture for 3 or 4 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.
Place marinated meat on shallow Pam sprayed baking dish
(Save marinated mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat then turning it down to simmer)
Rub steak seasoning all over meat
Place in baking dish in center of oven and cook for 23 minutes
Turn oven off letting meat cook down.  NEVER open the oven door during this time!
When oven is cool, meat is done.... no more than 2 hours.
Slice meat thinly and pour cooked marinated mixture over top.
Serve and enjoy!

Oh, and here is a delicious side dish that goes wonderful with the Tenderloin.

Broccoli Casserole

1 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups frozen chopped broccoli
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 eggs well beaten
Salt and pepper

Make a roux of melted butter and flour, and blend in milk to make 1/2 cup thick white sauce.  Combine broccoli, white sauce, mayonnaise, lemon juice, eggs, salt and pepper to taste in a well-greased 1-quart casserole dish.  Set dish in pan of hot water.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until firm!

Ellie, the above 2 recipes combined with your mommy's yummy Twice Baked Potato Recipe will make for a delicious dinner!  One that will be a sure hit no matter who you are serving!

As for the rest of my week before the month of May begins ... Poppy is getting ready to visit Great Pop Russell for a few days, so I will hopefully have some time to create a few more pages in your 1 year old scrapbook!  (I know, I know.... I am slightly behind!  But I am working on it!)  And I hope too to be able to take advantage and see a movie with a girlfriend and possibly a Saturday lunch at Panera's with your Aunt Sammy!

So what is our agenda for the month of May Kimberly?  How about since Mother's Day falls in this beautiful month, what do you think about honoring special moms?

Oh Ellie, because May is known as the month of spring awakening and new growth,... I think I will be changing your nickname to Ellie-rosebud for a few weeks, for you are like a beautiful flower Ellie blooming "newness" each and every day!

Till then little bean,
Love Mimi


  1. I remember that easter so well and always tell people about the dyeing of the eggs and the egg and basket hunt. I remember not being to bad at finding the eggs, but i could not find that basket anywhere, even though both Kim and Ryan had seen my basket immediately - I to had to be guided by the hot and cold game to the exact location (the coat cupboard)!

    To be honest i didn't really know what i was looking for but oh my, when I found the basket, it was the most amazing thing, so beautifully made up and filled with sweets, chocolate, gifts and more Herseys kisses than a girl knew what to do with - as ever your generousity was immense. That really was a fun, fun easter. Later on the family came over and i received even more gifts and we played some American football, which i had no idea how to play and got completely wrong, but still we all had lots of fun!

    Thank you for those lovely memories
    With love Catherine

  2. I love Ellie's new name for this month! :) and I love these beautiful stories. I cannot get through them without tears. You both have such a flare for story telling. Thank you for sharing not only with Ellie but with us too! The recipes sound delicious and make my mouth water.

  3. Kathy and Catherine- You both are so wonderful. Thank you for your kind words!