Bottled Easter Basket

by Julia Hayden

Having as we do a monthly Red Hat Ladies in San Antonio event where we are expected to razzle-dazzle the other members with our skill and creativity when it comes to doing a token gift, my daughter and I have gotten very, very good at creating something out of nothing . . . well, almost nothing. Last month, though - we did get a little carried away with the Texas-themed basket, so we vowed this month to keep it simple and fairly inexpensive.

The theme of the gift this month is Easter . . . and my daughter thought up a new and interesting variation on an Easter basket. Last month at the New Braunfels Saturday farmer's market, she sampled pickled quail eggs for the very first time. It used to be that pickling hardboiled eggs was a way to preserve them for long periods of time without refrigeration. You don't often see pickled eggs any more, except maybe in the more high-end delicatessens . . . so my daughter had never even tasted one before. She thought the pickled hard-boiled quail egg tasted like rubbery pickled something. It's kind of like eating snails; once is enough, just to say that you did it. But anyway, the vision of pickled eggs stuck in her mind, and merged with the vision of Easter eggs . . . and produced the Bottled Easter Basket!

We started with two large glass jars, which had once held dill pickles and marinated artichoke hearts, in the 32-ounce size, or the Sam's Club quantity. We save them, to use in storing bulk quantities of macaroni and things, although they often have to be put through the dishwasher over, and over, until the smell of the pickling brine is completely banished. We already had a half a bag of green cellophane grass, left over from something or other, and some rolls of pastel ribbon that, IIRC, were in a bag of sewing notions that my daughter bought at a yard sale for a dollar or so.

For the main contents of the Easter Basket in a bottle, my daughter and I hit the local Dollar Store. For a whole ten dollars or so, we came away with three packages of plastic Easter eggs, five bags of foil-wrapped chocolates, a packet of Easter-egg shaped suckers, and a bag of gummy Easter eggs in individual wrappers. From the Hancock Fabrics outlet - a short length of pastel madras-patterned cotton, although I would have preferred a calico print with Easter eggs, or chicks or rabbits printed on it.

Assembly - a snap. The longest and most tedious task was filling every one of the plastic eggs with the chocolates. Then, pad the bottom of each jar with cellophane grass, carefully stack the filled eggs inside, fitting in the suckers and the little packets of gummy eggs in the interstices. We put the lids on the jars, and cut two rounds of fabric with pinking shears, and secured the fabric with a length of ribbon - and there you go: Bottled Easter Basket. It's original, anyway - and recycles the glass jars!

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