This will be the first Easter since we had our first child that our house will be empty. No Easter basket hunt, no hurrying people to get dressed, and no full table at brunch. My husband and I will go to church together, and sit in the pew without them, and it will be very strange. I won’t be giving that look that I give when I see a cell phone being pulled out of a pocket, I won’t hear my daughter’s beautiful voice quietly singing hymns, and I won’t feel the big, strong shoulder of my son nudging against me.
So this is where the term empty nest comes from. It’s not so much about the house being empty, it’s about the heart. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my husband, and I love the alone time that we get to share now that our chaperones are in their own apartments. When your kids go away to college your nest isn’t really empty because they come back for Thanksgiving, winter break, and summer. Those little pockets of quite are a respite. Having a clean house is wonderful, and eating what and when we want makes my evenings so much more relaxed than when they’re home. Yet, there are times when the silence can be deafening.
After years of loud voices, backpacks on the floor, jackets hung over chairs, disappearing plates and glasses (collected in messy bedrooms), and multiple televisions going at once, too much quite can feel less like peace and more like a punishment. Not having my kid’s home for Easter reminds me that soon our college graduate really will be leaving the house to start her grown up life. Her bedroom will turn into a guest room, or my office, and then, it will be our son’s turn to fly. So this first holiday without our offspring is a slap of reality, telling me that life does indeed move quickly. Too fast.
Instead of dwelling on the inevitable, and risk making my dear husband feel like he doesn’t count, I’m going to start some new traditions. The bunnies and chicks are coming out of storage. Easter baskets will be filled, only this year they’ll be shipped to other locals. And, I will cook and bake and set a table for two. After church we will go to Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago and drop off some coloring books and crayons, because nothing makes the heart fuller than doing something good for others. And that’s what Easter is about.
Yes, our children have grown up, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Granted, it’s a bittersweet feeling to have reached this point in what seems like the blink of an eye, but we are here, and that’s a blessing. I will embrace the turn in the road, and look forward to all of the things that lie ahead. Like grandchildren!
Let’s talk cake, shall we? Uh-huh, I’m changing the subject, because I’m really good at doing that. Just ask my family.
Two attempts to create a really good vanilla cake later and I’ve done it. The first recipe found me using apple sauce for the egg replacer. The cake was good, but it was too dense and flat. It also tasted like apples, not vanilla. I will save this recipe for a loaf cake and make it more interesting, but for now, I am focused on making an awesome vanilla cake.
Cake number two was just right. I resorted back to using Ener-G egg replacer and I added one more “egg” to the recipe. And, because I’m a true believer in the power of buttermilk, I added a tablespoon of lemon juice to the almond milk, and guess what? We have a winner! Ding-ding-ding-ding!!!
Because this is a celebration cake, I wanted it to look like a party. Soooooo, I did what any of you would have done, I thinly sliced some tangerines and put them on a piece of parchment paper, sprinkled them with sugar, and roasted them for ten minutes. Ooh-la-la! So pretty.
The tangerine buttercream frosting is to die for. Seriously, each bite is a burst of citrus, it tastes like a holiday.
Finally, I went further with my spring madness and decorated with edible pansies. This is a showstopper both visually and gastronomically. I can’t wait for you to try it!