True Colors

Author: Kirsten K., Crafts, Holidays

This year, Easter arrives the day before Earth Day, which is a timely reminder to make sustainable choices when celebrating this holiday of rebirth and renewal. Consider one of these green alternatives to plastic Easter grass, then fill your basket with goodies from Natural Candy Store. Along with natural and organic jelly beans, lollipops, foil-wrapped eggs, and chocolate bunnies, this online emporium sells a superb set of Natural Easter Egg Decorating Colors.

These six vegetable powders from TruColor make potent natural dyes that are specially designed to color eggs (or alternatives). Ingredients like red cabbage and purple sweet potato provide a vibrant stain that deepens as it dries. Unlike the traditional method I learned growing up, which involved submerging eggs for five minutes in a mixture of boiling water, vinegar, and synthetic food coloring, dyeing eggs with these natural colors is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Mix powder with water in a cup.
  2. Let sit until completely dissolved.
  3. Submerge egg for one minute.

In just 60 seconds, the colors surpassed pastel and grew in hue, so play around with the amount of powder, water, and time for a basketful of options (such as diluting the dye mixture at intervals to create ombré eggs). You can also mix equal parts powder and water for applying color directly to the eggs with a paintbrush. Enter your “eggcellent” creation in the 2019 Easter Egg Natural Decorating Contest by April 21st (instructions and contest rules are included with your natural dye kit) and your artistry may be rewarded with a $100 gift certificate to Natural Candy Store. Sweet!

Once you’ve finished dyeing your eggs, you can use the leftover powder for cake and cookie decorating to make earth-friendly and people-pleasing holiday treats, so show your true colors on Easter while honoring Earth Day as you celebrate this spring awakening the natural way.


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Natural Easter Egg Decorating Colors

 

Natural Candy Store is currently offering 10% off your entire order, including savings of up to 50% on overstock Easter-themed candy, plus a free gift for any $20 minimum purchase. Consult this chart for Easter shipping deadlines and get hopping!

 

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Fruits of Your Labor

Author: Kirsten K., Crafts, History, Holidays

fruit-pomanderI love homemade holiday decorations, especially those fashioned from natural materials. The scents of the season—evergreen, bayberry, cinnamon, cloves—muster memories, both real and imagined, of an old-fashioned Christmas. While the creative process is part of the pleasure, it’s always nice when you can preserve your handiwork to last for more than one season, which is why I enjoy making pomanders.

Traditionally, a pomander (from the French pomme d’ambre, meaning “apple of amber”) was an apple-shaped ball of sweetly-scented herbs and spices held together by ambergris. It was carried in a bag or encased within an ornate orb and suspended from the waist or neck. Used since the Middle Ages to mask unpleasant odors and prevent sickness due to “bad air,” pomanders among the wealthy were often made of gold or silver and encrusted with jewels, but by the 18th century they began to take the more common form of the clove-studded orange we know today.

pomander-ornamentIn addition to oranges, pomanders can be made from lemons, limes, apples, pears, or kumquats. If you want this fragrant fruit to remain ripe with scent, cover the entire surface with cloves, then roll it in a mixture of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and orris root powder. Allow the pomander to cure in the open air for a week and you’ll have an aromatic adornment that can last for years.

Pomanders lend themselves to all kinds of creative expression, so get inventive. For a sachet with cachet, use cloves to create patterns on the fruit, from simple lines and shapes to swirls and spirals, leaving some or most of the colorful skin visible. Tie a bow around the finished product and hang it on the tree, or pile several of the decorated fruits into a clear glass bowl for a sweet and spicy centerpiece.*

Pomanders are so easy to make that you can build an entire decorating scheme around them. If you take the necessary steps to properly preserve and care for them, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor all season long.

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Fruit Pomanders

 

For ease, I like to use the Williamsburg Pomander Ball Kit, which comes with cloves, preservative spices, ribbon, and detailed instructions, but do-it-yourselfers can use the following recipe (adapted from The Spice House):williamsburg-pomander-ball-kit

FRUIT POMANDERS

¾ cup orris root powder†
½ cup cinnamon
¼ cup ground cloves
2 Tbsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. ground ginger
whole cloves (about ¼ cup per fruit)
whole oranges, apples, pears, lemons, or limes

Working from the top in a circular manner, poke holes in the fruit with a toothpick or cake tester and insert cloves by the pointed end, pressing in. It will take 30 minutes to an hour (or more) to completely cover the fruit, so put on some holiday music, make a cup of tea or hot chocolate, and settle in to enjoy the process. I find the repetitive method to be meditative and relaxing, which is a nice antidote to the holiday hustle and bustle.

When the fruit is covered (or your design is completed), mix the spices and orris root together in a shallow bowl or ziplock bag and either roll or shake the fruit in the powder until thoroughly coated. Tap or brush off the excess and set out to dry for several days.

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The Williamsburg Pomander Ball Kit is not available online, but can be purchased from Williamsburg Celebrations by calling (757) 565-8642.

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*Sparsely decorated fruit pomanders won’t last as long as densely covered designs, so keep an eye out for mold.  To extend their life, put them in the refrigerator when not on display.

†Orris root is a member of the iris family. The powder is used as a fixative in perfumes and potpourri. It is available from Amazon and a number of online retailers.

 

Criminal Profiles

Author: Kirsten K., Crafts, Holidays
a-rose-for-lady-ravencourt

A Rose for Lady Ravencourt

I have a large collection of silhouettes hanging on my bedroom wall. Some are hand-cut antiques, others are recent prints, and a few were created by me. Most are classical portraits of 19th-century men and women, but every October I like to switch a few out for something a shade more sinister.

John Fair has given the old-fashioned art of the silhouette a digital upgrade and introduced it to the dark side of the Victorian era with his clever—and cleverly named—Killhouettes. Years ago, knowing of my love for silhouettes and my morbid fascination with Jack the Ripper, my sister gave me “A Rose for Lady Ravencourt” as a birthday gift, because the image reminded her of the infamous serial killer. Instantly smitten, I jumped online and found the full Killhouettes lineup of criminal profiles.

victorian-drive-by

Victorian Drive-By

I immediately saw the possibilities for using the pictures as pumpkin-carving patterns. Many of the images can be adapted to smooth over complicated details or account for detached spaces that would be lost in the carving process, but until someone makes even tinier saw blades than Pumpkin Masters, I won’t be attempting the spokes on “Victorian Drive-By” anytime soon. This year, however, I did manage to (somewhat) successfully carve a child-sized weapon from an older design called “No Candy. Your Wallet, Mister!”no-candy-your-wallet-mister

In addition to offering 5×7” prints for sale on the website, John Fair is active on the Killhouettes Facebook page, where he regularly posts new designs and special, limited-supply items, such as mini Halloween lanterns, door hangers, postcards, and temporary tattoos.

Halloween is in less than a week, so whether you decide to carve a knife-wielding “Isabel” into a pumpkin or hang a “Jumping Rope with Claudia” on your wall, it would be a crime not to get the complete series. At just $6 each, including shipping, these sick silhouettes are a killer deal.

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Killhouettes

 

To view both current and past Killhouettes, search Google Images.

 

Good Eggs

Author: Kirsten K., Crafts, Holidays

Good Eggs 1Spring has officially arrived and Easter is one week from today, so the time draws nigh when I must dye! No, I’m not starring in an all-female Passion Play, I am speaking of Easter eggs, those colorful capsules that—in a just world—contain chocolate and jelly beans, but, more likely, encase your breakfast or lunch for the next week or so.

When it comes to decorating for the holidays, I’m a traditionalist who likes to stick with the tried-and-true, but I am not a fan of hard-boiled eggs, nor do I relish blowing slimy innards out of a shell (a task I enjoy about as much as hollowing out pumpkins for carving at Halloween). The solution: EggNots.

Good Eggs 2EggNots are ceramic egg alternatives that look, feel, and dye just like real eggs, but are perfect for vegans, those with egg allergies, and lazy people with strange hang-ups (ahem). They are ready to use right out of the carton—no boiling, blowing out, or patching holes required.

I like to scatter a table or fill a bowl with solid-colored eggs in a variety of springtime pastels, but the blank white canvas of these ceramic spheroids inspires a plethora of creative ideas, so don’t put all your EggNots in one Easter basket. You can decorate eggs for any season or reason and use the company’s egg hangers to display your artistry.

If you’re stressed about Easter or springtime decorating, don’t lay an egg. Give yourself—and the hens—a break and crack open a carton of EggNots.

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EggNots