Interview

I feel so honored to be featured on Handmade Philly today:

http://handmadephilly.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/interview-with-gigglepotamus/

Natural Egg Dying

(This is a repost of what I wrote for Handmade Philly this week)

 

 

 

It’s official- spring has sprung, and egg dying season is upon us.  Growing up, we always purchased food coloring kits, but if you’d like to try something a little more traditional, then please read on.  Natural dyes do take a little longer than their chemical counterparts, but I think the results are worth it. 

I like the idea that dying eggs can be safe for the environment, both by using natural elements as well as less packaging, while also paying homage to how I imagine our ancestors must have done it.  For this tutorial, I have also included a stencil technique if you’d like to add an additional layer of interest to your eggs.  

Let’s start with the beets, which will turn your eggs anywhere from pale pink to deep red-violet, depending on how long you leave them in the dye bath.  I boiled two cups of chopped beets with two cups of water, 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar, and 1 T of salt .  I am told the eggs come out better when the dye mixture is hot, and since you have to hard boil them anyway, you can just put them all into the pot together & boil for 15 minutes.  After that, remove from heat, and leave the eggs in the mixture until desired shade is achieved.  I left mine in for several hours, and this is what I got: 

 

Since the natural dyes leave the eggs somewhat dull, you can polish them when they’re dry with a little bit of oil.  As you can see from the photo, the oil polish (I used canola) also deepens the color quite a bit.  For the egg on the left, I tried tying rubber bands around it to give it more texture.  For the one on the right, I used wild strawberry leaves as a stencil.  

To achieve the stencilling effect, gather whatever materials you think would make an interesting pattern on your egg.  I went out in my backyard and picked the following: 

 

Next, you will need some old nylon stockings.  Cut off the feet so you have a little bag big enough for the egg with room to tie it off.  Place the egg inside, with whatever material you are using for a stencil.  I tried to flatten the leaves out against the egg surface as best as possible, but it is a little tricky, and I liked the randomness of it anyway.  Then, tie off the open end of your stockings as tightly as possible with either a rubber band or a knot, and you should have something that looks like this: 

 

From there, you just put it in your dye bath until you’re ready to remove it.  Here are how some of my other eggs turned out: 

 

Boil one head of chopped cabbage for about 30 minutes.  Strain the liquid, and add ¼ cup white vinegar and ¼ cup of salt and your eggs so they are covered.  Not only will the eggs turn a beautiful shade of blue, but you can see the difference between leaving them in the dye bath for several hours vs. about an hour (bottom eggs).

 

For the turmeric eggs, I boiled one cup of water with 1 T. turmeric, 1 T. white vinegar, and 1 T. salt.  I transferred the mixture to dye cups & immersed my eggs for only about an hour.  

 

2 cups yellow onion skins boiled with 2 cups water, 1T. vinegar, & 1 T. salt.  I wrapped the one on the right in onion skins with nylon over top, and it came out with a really cool marbled texture. 

I haven’t personally tried these, but here are some other natural elements that you can experiment with.  Just remember to add the vinegar so the dye sticks to the eggs: 

Blue:                      

Canned blueberries, red cabbage (boiled), purple grape juice 
 
 Brown or beige: 
 
Black coffee, instant coffee, walnut shells (boiled), black tea
 
Green: 
 
Spinach (boiled), liquid chlorophyll
 
Orange:
 
Yellow onion skins (boiled), carrots (boiled), paprika(boiled) 
 
Pink:
 
Beets, cranberries or juice, raspberries
 
Red:
  
Lots of red onion skins (boiled), pomegranate juice, raspberries
 
Violet or purple: 
 
Violet blossoms, hibiscus tea, sm. amount of red onion skins (boiled)
 
Yellow: 
 
Orange or lemon skins (boiled), carrot tops (boiled), chamomile tea, ground turmeric (boiled), ground cumin (boiled), celery seed (boiled), green tea

Spring Craft Boutique

A Week in Words

snownami · cold · baking · sewing · sinus infection · pediatrician · no school · homemade valentines · cabin fever · uno · jello jigglers · spaghetti · snow · shovelling · back aches · mahna, mahna · giant cookies…mmmm · pj’s · couch cushion fort · netflix · paul blart, mall cop · legos · laptop · work from home · baby shower · lasagne · candy hearts · tylenol · holy cow, more snow! · jackson’s first steps · bruises · bumped heads · hide and seek ·  bunco · glitter glue · baby quilt · panda bear pants · cuddles · down comforter · sick kitty · the monster at the end of this book · target · score! alton brown tickets! · superbowl · go saints · snow puddles · inside voice, please! · don’t hit your brother · wipe your feet · the “incident” with the hair clippers · stop hitting your brother · cordon bleu · yuck! I’m not eating that! · wyatt, don’t touch the computer · bologna · IF YOU HIT YOUR BROTHER ONE MORE TIME I’M GOING TO EXILE YOU TO ANTARTICA!!!

Crafting with Kids: Easy Stenciled Valentines

Don’t let the title fool you, this project is for us old folks, too.  It’s just so easy that I labelled it as a kids’ project.  For some reason, this year, I’ve had Valentine’s Day on the brain much more so than in the past.   I guess that’s why I managed to get this little tutorial put together in time to actually use it.  Honestly, it’s a cute project that has many uses, not just Valentine’s Day, so go ahead and let your imagination run wild.

First, this is what you’ll need:

  1. Construction paper
  2. Scissors
  3. Paints (we used cheap craft paints)
  4. Cups, plates, etc. for mixing & thinning paints, as needed
  5. Freezer paper (NOT waxed paper)
  6. Iron & ironing surface
  7. Various items for applying paint.  We used sponges, brushes, string, and old toothbrushes

Step 1:

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT-  if you are doing this with smaller children, and would like to get started in a timely manner & not go completely INSANE, then I would suggest you assemble all of your materials BEFORE you tell the kids what you’re up to.  Otherwise, you may just have to hear the phrase, “Please, can we start painting, please, please, PLEASE?????” only about 56,802 times.  Additionally, if your kids are too small to cut out shapes or handle a hot iron themselves, then I would also suggest doing the next step before you clue them in, as that, too, can make their waiting more unbearable.  Since I did neither of the above, I decided to keep my design pretty simple.

Step 2:

Cut your shapes out of the freezer paper and arrange them on your folded construction paper (if you’re making a folded card) shiney side down.  We chose different sized hearts, but you can do just about anything.  The nice thing about freezer paper is it can be used like tracing paper, so go nuts with those royalty-free printouts:

 

Step 3:

** Disclaimer-  this seems obvious, but irons are hot!  Please use your judgement and closely supervise the little people during this step **

With your iron on a medium heat setting, and your card on an ironing board or other protected surface, press down on each piece of freezer paper for a few seconds, until all pieces are securely adhered. 

 You should be left with something like this:

(please ignore that hideous dark blotch across this photo- it wasn’t on my card, and I’m too lazy to Photoshop it out right now).

Step 4:

Now you’re ready to paint!  Gather your paints and other accoutrements and work some magic all over the surface of the card.  Be sure to cover over all of the freezer paper edges with paint to achieve the nicest images.  I personally was quite fond of the sponge technique:

Step 5:

Once the paint is dry, it’s time to peel off the freezer paper pieces.  This  can be tricky, as they tend to disappear a little under all that paint.  Once you get the edge started, though, they peel right off:

And you should be left with something like this:

From here, you can either be done, or continue to decorate them with stamps, glitter glue, etc.  and of course include your personal message.

Freezer paper is a very versatile material, and it’s something that I use all the time in my sewing projects.  The above technique can also be used to paint on t-shirts, pillows, etc. as a “poor man’s silkscreen”. Maybe we’ll cover that project next time.  Until then, have fun, & catch ya on the flip side.

Show Schedule

 

I’m in full craft show mode right now, and the next couple of weeks are going to be so busy!  To anyone who stopped by my booth at Mt. Carmel last weekend, thank you! 

Sorry for the late notice, but tomorrow (11/14/09) I’ll be showing at the Reserve at Gwynedd’s Fine Art & Craft Show.  Proceeds benefit Laurel House, a women’s and children’s shelter.

 

Next, Ladies Shopping Night at Immaculate Conception Church in Jenkintown, PA on Friday, November 20th, from 7:30-10.  This show is a lot of fun, because not only is it free to come in & shop, but they give you free food and wine, too!  What’s not to love?

 

Finally, on December 5th, I’ll be at the Abington Friends School 3Rd Annual Holiday Craft Show.  I did this one last year, and really enjoyed it- what a beautiful campus!

Of course, my Etsy Shop still exists, although I’m really not good about updating it!  Please contact me if you see something that you would like to purchase, chances are, it’s available, or I can make one like it. 

Gigglepotamus now officially has a fan page on Facebook!  Stop by and join to stay updated on shows, announcements, and special deals (or to just make me feel good 🙂 )

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Gym Wisdom

So, for the past several weeks (months?) I’ve been making an effort to get to the gym more.  My post-baby body has made it clear that it’s happy where it is, and it’s not going down without a fight.  Fine, I’m up for the challenge.  Never in my life have I had to work so hard at losing weight, but if a fight it wants, a fight it will get.

Anyway, after my recent running debacle I thought it best to stick to indoor activities for the time being, so I’ve been making it to my gym fairly regularly.  I have been a member at this particular gym since I was 19.  It’s fascinating to me that even though there have been long stretches of time that I haven’t been back,  I still see a lot of the same people that I did 15+ years ago.  

If I recognize them, I wonder if they recognize me, too?  I am definitely, ahem… curvier since then, and catching those glimpses of myself in the full length mirrors is at times both shocking and distressing.  Are these people wondering what the heck happened to me?  But wait–  a quick look around assures me I’m not alone.  Apparently 15 years of crunches haven’t done that guy much good-  he’s still sporting the spare tire.  And yeah- miss stair climber hasn’t changed a bit, still looks great…  But, whoa– what happened to all of that guy’s hair?   And I see that woman still won’t let the ’80 leotard and sweatbands rest in peace…

As much as I’ve changed from my svelte, karate-kicking days, I have to accept that 15+ years and 3 kids aren’t going to leave me unchanged without some serious effort.  So I’ve stepped up my time & speed on the treadmill.  It’s funny how some things never change.  Like, if a woman is on the treadmill next to a young-ish guy, he will never allow her to run at a faster pace than him.  Even if this means he will be hacking and cramping later, guy pride dominates.   Speaking of treadmills, another unspoken “rule” of which I’ve been recently reminded (the hard way)– never, EVER, under any circumstances, breathe in through your mouth if someone is on the treadmill next to you, or even in your vicinity.  Especially if they look like the type of person who *may* have had burritos for lunch.  (side note, and this probably goes without saying:  Never, ever have burritos for lunch the days you plan on going to the gym.)

Another good rule to live by:  Don’t wear pants in a color that shows your sweat marks if you plan on doing any kind of hip adductor machine (the one that has you spread eagle for the world to see).   Unless you’re into displaying how much your crotch sweats, of course…. which then, by all means, go for it.  However, if you’re not into seeing other people’s crotch sweat (or other fun stuff, if they’re wearing, say, short shorts) then it might be a good idea to look anywhere but in that direction when they’re using this machine or otherwise “thigh mastering”.

So, after a brief plateau, and realizing that those little snacks throughout the day really do add up, I’ve been exercising regularly and keeping a food journal and have started to drop poundage again.  I hated the idea at first of having to log everything I ate, but it really is helpful in so many ways.  Not only am I so much more aware of what and when I eat, tools like the calorie counter on igoogle make it so easy to see how things are adding up throughout the day.  Plus, it gives me the nutritional info for stuff that doesn’t have a label, like fresh fruits & veggies.  And by counting my calories, I’ve also realized that I can still have a lot of things that don’t seem like diet food, like pizza and london broil.  Do I sound like a commercial, or what?

Stretch marks aside, I hope to be fit and MILF-worthy by summer.  In the past month, I’ve shaved a minute off my mile, and I’m even considering doing some local 5Ks.  Take that, baby flab.  Now if I could only do something about the dark circles under my eyes….