Brewing Spring Traditions #2: An Italian Easter Dinner, Revamped to Shabby Chic Splendor

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Of all our traditions we have in our family as the weather warms, Easter and Mother's Day are the most formal of them. As far as Easter goes, we Italians center our holidays around food (usually a meal that is roughly 5 hours long and takes a week of prep!) There are Easter eggs and plastic egg hunts in the yard-those traditions we have borrowed from American culture. But we also have the Colomba Pannettone (an Easter sweet bread), giant chocolate eggs with prizes hidden inside for the children and a tableful of nuts and fruit bowls with cups of coffee and espresso to finish our meal. It's at that point that our male counterparts take a "passegare" around the neighborhood to lighten their stomachs (and make room for the final dessert course) while the ladies clear some plates and prep for the hunt with the kids. After that, we sit and chat about life and family as we wait for the men to join us. During this gossip session, we usually have refreshers of coffee and espresso all around-and when I am hosting, this is usually on my deck. This gives us a bird's eye view of the kids hunting for eggs, and lets us watch the sun go down while we relax. As for me, it's usually the first time I get to sit down all day, and I really enjoy seeing everyone satisfied, relaxed and having fun at my event (and let's face it, my legs don't mind the rest!).

Every year, it's the same. But this year, I wanted to make it extra special. My Godparents are retiring, and moving back to Italy this summer. SO this would be the last time I host Easter at my home with them here. I decided to turn up the volume on the decor and the food, by making it a shabby chic Easter.

Food is King

As far as the food, I did not skimp here. Italians like their traditional dishes, and don't like too many surprises. Some things I kept to tradition, like my Neopolitan Easter Soup and my crepe lasagna for the pasta course. We had the traditional antipasto passed around of cured meats and crudites. But we also made some special dishes to show my Godparents how much we loved them (in Italian culture, love means food). For instance we deviated from the traditional lamb for the meat course, and made osso bucco with gremolata. We also made Milanese rice, which hasn't been done in our family-I think ever! We also had some nosh for the pre-dinner deck sitting; some spinach and cheese filled phyllo cups, wine, cheese, various dried sausages, fresh squeezed lemonade and orange infused iced tea. For dessert, I made the kids some bunny cake pops (never been done in our family) to accompany the more traditional "Pastiera" (Easter sweet barley pie) and the Pannetone. I also put out some chocolate dipped Mandarin orange slices sprinkled with Fleur de Sel to accompany the traditional fruit and nut course. I tried to put a little something different and special throughout the dinner.

Decor, a Shabby Chic Spring Explosion
Italians don't do much decor for Easter. It's really all about the food, and if there is any decor, it's usually flowers. I decided to make my home a dizzying array of vintage lace, pastel floral fabrics, vintage mismatched china and pastel poofs. I wanted everyone to feel like they were coming in and really celebrating rebirth, love and energy-inside and out. And the bonus? All this work I spent crafting these decorations I was going to save and reuse for a baby shower I'm hosting in June! Perfect!
Here are some links to how-to's for some of these shabby chic pretties-and i will tell you right now, your local thrift store will be your best friend when it comes to shabby chic shopping.
Outdoor nest wreath, tissue poms poms and fabric scrap flag garland
Bric a Brac Fabric Scrap Wreath
Eyelash Yard Spring Door Wreath, linen prep
Bunny Cake Pops

The Wind Down
After the main meal was served, and eggs were all found (well, almost all-the kids couldn't find a few and my sister and I couldn't remember where the missing ones were!) I had everyone sit on the deck. I served coffee again (a mainstay in Italian culture-I think Italians drink coffee more than water) and brought out the desserts. I also brought out some of the fruit, in case someone wanted to eat lighter. We relaxed, laughed and watched the first few stars come out. We sipped our coffee, enjoying the warmth, because now the sun was setting, and their was a slight chill to the air. As for me, the coffee was fortifying, because I still had a mound of dishes to clean. The Starbucks Spring Blend was the smooth, perfect cup for me as I gathered my much needed second wind, sitting among my most loved people in the whole world. This blend is fast becoming my favorite, it's smooth and light, perfect for relaxing.

As for some of the missing eggs-I found one of them during clean up. I had to text the pic to my sister. Who knows when I'll find the other two?

Here's to spring and family! I hope spring decides to finally stay awhile!

missing egg #1, outdoor sugar bowl

ENTERTAINING: Prep Day 3: Outdoor Nest Wreaths, Fabric Flag Garland and Tissue Pom Poms

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Easter wreath, how to here

So yesterday was a day of shopping with my daughter (she wanted to pick another Easter dress), shopping for groceries, and crafting our decor for our shabby chic Easter party.

First thing I wanted to get done, was dressing up our urns flanking our stairs. It's been too cold to put any flowers in their, and I still had left over dead plant material from summer. I decided to make a "Bird's Nest Wreath", using the debris in the urn as a base for the nest. I needed two nests, and I had them mirror each other in design. That means, if I had trailing leaves on the right of one, than I would put it on the left of the other. That way, the urns look symmetrical as you meet our stairs.

Here's how you make them:

Outdoor Bird Nest Wreath

Glue gun with glue
Grape vine wreath(s)
Decorative eggs
Silk or plastic trailing leaves
Silk or plastic flowers, some that trail
Dried floral moss


Weave the flowers and trailing vines through the twigs. Have the flowers wrap inward towards the nest, and have some trail down so they flank and trail your urn or pot.

Next, take your hot glue gun and glue the eggs in a clump, layering them on top of each other.

I added a few little flowers in between the eggs, Next, I added a long bow, that also trailed with the leaves. I used a dab of hot glue to stick it on. Then I went outside with my wreaths to finish.

I clumped and wrapped all the dead plant debris at the center of the urn. This helped create the base of my nest. Then I nestled the wreath in the urn, having the leaves and ribbon trail down the side. If you ware worried about staying power, you can stick a bamboo skewer down through the wreath into the dirt.

Finally, lay in the moss at the center. Ta-da!

Next I created fabric flag garland. I bought bags of fabric scraps at the thrift store (a dollar a bag?! Sign me up!) Here's how you do it.

Fabric Flag Garland

Fabric scraps, in coordinating color
Spool of twine
Glue gun with glue


Cut the fabric up into small triangles and circles. You can choose your size, but I made them smaller.

Next, add a line of hot glue along the top of a piece, and set it on the twine. Alternate circle and triangle, every 3-4 inches along the twine. That's it! Create a few. 

I next made some tissue pom poms. I bought a value pack for 10 bucks at JoAnne fabrics with a ton of colors. I also bought some at Walgreens. Pick your colors. Lay them on the ground. You can make some with 6 sheets for looser pom poms. 8-10 makes fuller. You can alternate the colors, and add different patterns.

Tissue Pom Poms
Large tissue sheets in your color palette
Curling ribbon


Lay 6-10 tissue pieces on top of one another. Starting at one end, accordion fold all the way down. cinch the center tightly. Cut the curling ribbon long so you can hang the pom pom from where you want to.

Trim ends in either angled tips, or half circles. Open up and pull each side, like a fan. 

Start on the ends and peel down and separate the layers. Fluff, pull, peel and open. Continue with different colors, different sizes. You can alternate colors and patterns.

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