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Saturday, March 26, 2016

How to use Plant Leaves to Dye Easter Eggs

Dying Easter eggs can be a time for fun, creativity and a little kitchen chemistry.
To get started you'll need white eggs, not brown.
Use a size pot to accommodate the number of eggs you want to boil. Too few eggs for the size pot will result in the eggs rattling around and increase the chance of them cracking.
Add enough water to fully cover the eggs.
Bring them to a boil, cover the pot with a lid, turn off the heat and let sit on the burner for 15 minutes.
Put the pot in the sink and run cold water to cool off the eggs. This works better than tipping the pot to strain off the hot water since that may cause the eggs to bump and crack.

Gather your plant material.
This time of year you'll probably have to rely on houseplants or herbs purchased from the grocery store. Parsley and cilantro leaves are pretty.
As far as houseplants use whatever you have. Boston fern, English ivy and Pothos have pretty shapes and work nicely.
Choose and snip off the tinier leaves.

Use an old pair of nylon stockings.
Cut it up into sections of about 5 inch lengths
Spread out the leaf so it lays flat onto the egg and carefully stretch the nylon over the egg to hold it tight.
Twist the nylon ends to close and tie shut with a twisty tie (the kind from loaves of bread)

To dye your eggs you'll need:

Small glass or metal bowls, one for each color you'll be using
Into each bowl add 1 cup boiling water
2 tsp. vinegar
10 - 20 drops food coloring (single colors or various blends and shades)
Using a slotted spoon or tongs lower the eggs into the dye
Let sit for at least 5 - 10 minutes or until satisfied with the strength of the colors
If dying a large number of eggs you may  need to increase and adjust the water, vinegar and dye amounts.

To remove the stocking from the eggs:

Work over your kitchen sink so all drips, stockings and plant material stay in the sink and you won't risk staining your countertop.
Using a scissors, carefully snip off the stocking and peel away the stocking and the plant leaf.
Lay the egg on a cookie sheet to dry.
Repeat for each egg.
Once all the eggs are dry the eggs can be put into an egg carton and stored in the refrigerator.
Hard-boiled eggs are good for about a week.

If you want to take the time and use all natural dyes for your eggs, this is a great tutorial.
Tumeric gives you yellow
Beets give you purple
Onion skins give you a brownish orange
Red cabbage gives you a blue

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Forcing Spring Twigs for a bit of Color

In a hurry for spring to arrive? Try cutting branches from flowering shrubs and force them to bloom a little early in the warmth of your home. Enjoy yellows, whites, pinks and purples!

This is a fun project to spark an interest in children to the wonder and beauty of our natural world.

During the months of February and March cut one to two foot long branches from such shrubs as:
pussy willow, dogwood, forsythia, redbud, plum, cherry, wild crab apple, apple, lilac and wisteria.
You can try tree types but shrubs tend to bloom much easier.
If you wait till March and the buds are starting to swell you'll get faster results.
Cut the branches on the diagonal.
Using a hammer, bruise the ends to allow the branches to soak up the water faster.
Put the branches in a vase and add water. Change the water every few days.

Below is a chart from the Farmer's Almanac as to the length of time you can hope to enjoy the blooms.

Buckeye5 weeks
Cherry4 weeks
Cornelian dogwood2 weeks
Crab apple4 weeks
Deutzia3 weeks
Flowering almond3 weeks
Flowering dogwood5 weeks
Flowering quince4 weeks
Forsythia1 week
Honeysuckle3 weeks
Horse chestnut5 weeks
Lilac4 weeks
Magnolia3 weeks
Pussy willow2 weeks
Red maple2 weeks
Redbud2 weeks
Red-twig dogwood5 weeks
Spicebush2 weeks
Spirea4 weeks
Wisteria3 weeks


Red Bud
Pussy Willow