By LESLIE LINSLEY Special to The Citizen
It's hard to believe that Easter is almost upon us. We've already pushed the clocks ahead an hour, which, while we are told gives us another hour of daylight, makes me feel that we've lost an hour in the day. However, by next week at this time, all will feel perfectly natural. Such is the adaptable nature of human beings.
As the weather gets warmer I find I get lazier. Where once I would go to great lengths to set a beautiful table, I now look for quick and easy shortcuts with promising results. So here's my latest idea to make your Easter bright and gay with this easy-to-put-together candle centerpiece idea. You'll need a dinner plate, tray or clear glass bowl, a hurricane lamp, fat pillar candle, three votive candles, three glass wine goblets and two or three bags of jelly beans, all available from the Dollar Tree.
• Place the hurricane shade in the center of the plate.
• Add the pillar candle inside the shade.
• Fill the wine goblets halfway with jelly beans.
• Nestle one votive candle in each of the three wine goblets.
• Scatter the remaining jelly beans around the base of the hurricane shade.
• Place a vase of fresh tulips in pastel colors, a basket of Easter eggs or a whimsical Easter bunny on the table for added color and festivity. Pier 1 Imports has little wind-up bunny rabbits for your guests to "play" with.
Every year I make a bunch of colored eggs because I like to experiment with new ways to do them. They never ever look like Martha Stewart's Easter eggs, on her worst day, and I've come to the conclusion that simply coloring them is best. The bright fuschia, robin's egg blue, emerald green, screaming violet and daffodil yellow are perfect just the way they are. Fill a large white bowl with the colored eggs and you've got your perfect Easter decoration.
However, if you really want to get creative, one foolproof way to do this is with twine or rubber bands. You can make the equivalent of marbelized eggs by wrapping the eggs with the twine or bands in a haphazard way. When you dip the eggs into the colored water, the areas that are wrapped will remain white. When removed, you'll have an interesting pattern.
And if that doesn't thrill you, but you want a decorated look, use only one color and create a basket of eggs in different shades of red, for example. Allow each egg to stay in the colored water for increasingly more time so the color intensifies. You'll be able to create eggs from the palest of pink to the darkest shade of red in a matter of minutes. Remember my article a few weeks ago about using Rit dye? I find dying with food coloring just as fascinating. It may sound odd, but really when you think about something so easy as dying a white egg a beautiful color by just sticking it into hot colored water It's pretty wonderful. It's the little things that make us sport bumper stickers or wear T-shirts that say, "Life is good."
Line a basket with a coordinating colorful napkin or piece of fabric and use this as a centerpiece. And, by the way, The Seam Shoppe has the most wonderful array of fabrics and you'll find that a fabric shop can do as much to raise your spirits as a flower shop when it comes to inspiration. It makes you think of spring and all sorts of creative ideas come to mind, even if you never get further than buying yards of fabric.
Setting a table for any special occasion makes it all the more fun because it's centered on a theme. If there won't be little children at your table, you can eliminate the bunny paraphernalia and go strictly for a colorful flower arrangement. Fill a vase with bunches of different colored tulips, for example, and use those colors for place mats and napkins.
I'm planning a table setting for daffodil weekend using the yellow and orange colors of the flower. My place mats are yellow with white polka dots with matching linen napkins. From the decoupage plates I make, I've chosen all those with a different yellow flower. But a table setting should have some whimsy or a bit of humor injected into the design. I found miniature farm animals -- roosters, hens and ducks -- at Ben Franklin Island Crafts and I will put one at each place setting.
You might do this with things you have around the house. Look for anything that appeals to you. For example, fill small clay pots with glass votive holders for individual bouquets, a single tulip or a candle. Or, fill pretty teacups with jelly beans or colorfully wrapped chocolate eggs.
Finally, for the most elegant way to hold anything you might want for your Easter table, nothing is nicer than a large clamshell. Whether it's filled with eggs, an orchid or small potted flowers, it's the perfect container.
Leslie Linsley has written more than 50 books on crafts, decorating and home style. She resides on Nantucket with her husband, photographer Jon Aron, and has a store on the island that specializes in her one-of-a-kind creations. Her latest book is "Key West, a Tropical Lifestyle" (Monacelli Press), with photos by Terry Pommett.